There is enough judgment in the world today. But we are called to be Hope dealers! A Hope dealer runs towards the hurting instead of running away from them. Hope dealers help heal the broken. Hope dealers are tasked to reconcile others to the Father! Hope Dealers help remove the grave clothes from others so that they may experience a new life in Christ.

There are times when we simply are cynical about others knowing Jesus. We don’t want them to have hope and redemption, yet God calls us to go into ALL the world. The story of Jonah reminds us that God will use us and show us his grace through it, even when we don’t want it.

People all around us are filled with despair and darkness (depression, anxiety, stress, addiction, trauma, sin, strongholds) and if you’re struggling with despair one of the first casualties is hope. Yet as people of faith, we have a hope that illuminates the darkness.

We must see people the way Jesus sees people…as opportunities to receive forgiveness and redemption. It is easy to get into our hopeless judgment of those living in sin and forget that we too are sinful.

When we are dealing hope, are we willing to do anything possible to get the world in front of Jesus?

What if we had a way that would lead to freedom, joy, peace, and security? What if we could tell you that there is a way that opens up the world to see something radically different? What if there was a better WAY?

Maybe you have grown up with many different beliefs in things or people. Maybe you grew up with your parents’ faith. However, at some point, we all have to answer the question Jesus asks, “Do you believe this?”

There are many shepherds trying to speak into us today. It is easy to be led astray by bad shepherds. Jesus offers us the opportunity to follow the Good Shepherd’s voice and he will lead us to still and quiet waters.

In a world that tries to give us many paths and roads to choose, Jesus gives us one and it is him. He tells us that he is the gate through which we must enter.

For many, life in this world is spent living in the darkness of our guilt and shame. However, Jesus longs to bring dark things into the light, and light brings freedom.

This world offers many different cravings, but if we truly want to understand true saving…then we must change what we are craving. The bread of life is what sustains. 

One of the greatest questions of our lives is what is my purpose? If we’re a person of faith we may ask: what is God calling me to do? So often we can feel so average, so ordinary that we wonder if God could ever really use us. Our individual gifts and callings may feel ordinary or simple or unremarkable – unlikely to make a meaningful difference and yet God is calling us collectively to use the gifts he has given us to change our world!

We live in a very disunified world. The world feels very Jurassic at times. It feels like we are always up against large beasts. We are at odds with politics, pandemics, peace, and what we praise. The church has been the epitome of disunity when the world needs to see the church unified for a cause and that cause is Christ and his mission. True unity (Freedom) in Christ is when we come together for a common goal of Go and Making as many disciples as possible together to defeat the large enemy (T-Rex) of this world.  

In a world where everyone wants the villain dead and gone, what would happen if we say the villains of this world or in our lives as redeemable and created in the same image of Christ as we are. At one point, we were all enemies of God in our sin. Yet, redemption is not through destruction but sacrifice for the villain. 

In a world where over 33% of kids live in a home with absent fathers, how can we change the culture and tide of absent fathers? We must be willing to go back to classic examples that God gives us to reclaim our families and our culture.

If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, worship,  (personal and communal) is central to that endeavor. While our whole existence should be centered around a life of worship, the bible has a ton to say about specific ways we encounter God and respond to Him. Starting with knowing the very One we are trying to worship. Imagine the power of a whole community of people who Know God, unashamedly express their love for Him, and carry His presence to a world desperate to know Him for themselves!

If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, worship,  (personal and communal) is central to that endeavor. While our whole existence should be centered around a life of worship, the bible has a ton to say about specific ways we encounter God and respond to Him. Starting with knowing the very One we are trying to worship. Imagine the power of a whole community of people who Know God, unashamedly express their love for Him, and carry His presence to a world desperate to know Him for themselves!

The church has not excelled in teaching the biblical view of human sexuality. It has tended to be legalistic or silent, with not much help in between. The gap left by the church has been filled with lies and distortions about sex by our culture, which is dominated by the Evil One. We need to rediscover the teaching from God about sex that is given to us in the Bible. We were sexual before we were sinful! God, who created sex as good, wants us to relearn the beauty, blessing and joy of sex as it was designed.

Why is the world so messed up, and why does God allow that to be so? When troubles, tragedy, or trauma strikes us, we naturally ask, “Why?” We direct our “Why?” to God. After all, he has the power to stop all things. And while God is never the cause of evil, he does want our faith to take deeper roots. We suffer when we lose anything important to us (control, security, safety, meaning, comfort, material things, or happiness). But here’s what God invites us to do in our suffering – move from asking “Why?” to asking “Who?” The “Who?” question directs us to the one who deeply understands our suffering and joins us in our suffering. In the end, we are left with just Jesus, and he is everything. May we each learn the secret that Jesus minus everything else equals everything.

We celebrate Pantano’s 60-year anniversary as we look back and forward while never forgetting our vision, mission, and purpose. God has called Pantano to be a church that is a catalytic force to bring God’s kingdom and influence anywhere he leads us. Our mission is to love people to Jesus. We launch passionate people to make a God difference, wherever God sends them. Pantano always has and always will be focused on expanding God’s kingdom and influence. This is who we’ve been. This is who we are. This is who we’ll continue to be!

One of the biggest questions among those deconstructing their faith today is this: is the church relevant and necessary? The church has, at times, lost its focus and purpose and in the process done a lot of damage and caused a lot of pain. Yet, it’s clear based on scripture that the church was always God’s plan. Despite the brokenness, can we, as Christ-followers, return to a place of beauty within the church – the beauty that Christ always intended. 

Doubt, skepticism, and deconstruction are often criticized not only as a weakness, but as an outright sin. However, every person of faith has experienced and has had to face their skeptical thoughts and doubts. As Frederick Buechner once said: “Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” Avoiding our doubts almost guarantees our faith will be weakened. But when we face our doubts directly and do the hard work of investigating them, the Holy Spirit can help our faith grow deeper roots producing a more authentic and fruitful faith.

Jesus did not create a new religion! In fact, he came to replace religion with something very different. He came to offer us a path to having a relationship with God. Religion is tiring, exhausting, and frustrating. It creates fear, guilt and shame. It leaves us empty and the feeling that we are a constant failure. Religion is a set of rules to force us to live a certain way. It uses guilt to keep us in line and reminds us of our failure to live up to the rules. What Jesus offers is different from religion. Jesus discarded religion because he solved our sin problem for us. It isn’t what we need to do to be approved by God, but God has approved of us through Jesus. In this message, we’ll learn what faith looks like as we follow Jesus and how that is transformed into a true faith.

For three days life was filled with uncertainty. Life was dark, Jesus was dead, hope was gone. Friday was full of mourning. Saturday was full of doubt. Life was sinking in the life of those that were following Jesus. Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe your life is sinking and you feel as if it is dark and hopeless. However, there is good news. God does the unthinkable when life seems the most sinkable. Your life might be hanging onto a Friday or Saturday moment…but Sunday is here.

Saturday, the day Jesus was in the tomb, reminds us to wait on the Lord. Trust him, for Sunday is coming! On Sunday, the tomb was empty, and Jesus was risen from the dead. But until our Sundays come, we wait and trust. To wait is to trust. It’s refusing to think I have to take everything into my own hands, and it trusts that God and his ways are better than my ways. Trust is allowing God to do what only God can do. Trust means we rest in him, not in ourselves. Trusting, waiting, resting – they are all connected and part of the same thing – Faith!  But waiting is not passive. It isn’t just sitting down and letting time pass by. It’s active. In the waiting, in the Sabbath, we are preparing our hearts to respond to God. How will you practice waiting, resting, and trusting God and make it a part of your regular rhythms?

Jesus suffered greatly for us. The torture and his pain are almost incomprehensible. He willingly and knowingly took on the punishment for our sin. The result was that we could have an intimate, personal relationship with God. But it goes further. His sacrifice gives us access to a God (Jesus) who suffers too. He has a profound empathy for our pain, suffering, loss, and brokenness that allows us to draw even nearer to him.

There are basically two things we trust – the things of man or God. What or who we trust will control our lives. Trust is everything! And what we trust will lead to two results – blessing or curse. That’s the language the Bible uses. Our trust will lead us to that which is truly good or blessed or that which will hurt us or be cursed; two ways to live with two results. Both are built on who we trust. Where do you put your trust? Be honest, because it matters and results in either blessing or curse.

Persecution/suffering is one of the clearest doctrines in the Bible. It is a significant theme in the New Testament, and yet it feels like a lost concept; something we don’t spend a lot of time thinking or talking about. It’s not a fun, feel-good message. But Jesus is making something clear here in this final beatitude – following him will cost you something, and because of that, few may actually choose to.

The path of following Jesus is the path of being at peace and making peace with all, for he is the Prince of Peace. Jesus came to make peace with us. As his children, it’s our nature to make peace. We invite others into a life-giving relationship with Jesus so they can be at peace with God. We make peace with those we have conflict with. We see peace and unity between people and groups that need to be reconciled. Making peace is the ultimate spiritual activity that Jesus calls us to engage.

Jesus calls us to have a pure heart. Pure is such a demanding word. Pure means, well, nothing impure. It’s like being perfect! Or holy?! So, right from the start, most of us will feel like this play or Beatitude is out of reach. Who thinks they can get close to being pure, holy, perfect or without fault? Is that what Jesus meant? What did Jesus mean when he invites us to have a pure heart? The Bible uses language like unadulterated to describe pure; meaning there is nothing mixed in. Jesus is talking about a pure sincere commitment to Jesus and his way. It’s about being a person where our focus and devotion are fully on God and we don’t let any other commitment get mixed in. It’s about being authentic in our faith. It’s about removing falseness and hypocrisy. A pure heart is pure because it has no competing influences – only God. A pure heart is a heart purely devoted to God.

Lent is a time of repentance and refocusing so that we can experience intimacy with God at a deeper level. Jesus does respond to our faithfulness. When we Seek Him, and Call on Him, and Change Our Ways, and Turn to Him, he offers mercy and forgiveness that allow our hearts to be aligned with Him.

Jesus saw the crowds. He saw people like sheep whose lives were being ripped up and left for dead both literally and spiritually (Matthew 9:36). These folks had no shepherd to protect and help them. As those who have received mercy after mercy, we are to give mercy after mercy. Who do you see in need of mercy? How will you give mercy? Jesus says that mercy is a key play in his playbook. Blessed are the merciful!

What brings you true satisfaction? What do you hunger and thirst for? The paradox of faith is that our perpetual hunger and thirst for God both satisfies and keeps us hungry and thirsty for more of God. What are you doing to get your fill of God?

We are on a spiritual journey. It starts when we know we are nothing and need (poor in spirit). Then we admit we are deeply sorry and want to change or repent (mourn). That leads us to this step: we’re ready for God to have his way with us. We surrender control of our life once and continually. We allow God to shape us, mold us, and direct us. We allow the Spirit to transform that which we surrender.

As we face God as he is (not the God of our own making or liking), we see how utterly helpless and hopeless we are (poor in spirit) and discover the depth of our sin and failure. This causes us deep sorrow, sadness, and grief as we mourn for our sins and brokenness. This godly sorrow causes us to confess (readily admit our sin) and repent. In repentance, we dramatically and intentionally change our mind, heart, behaviors, attitudes, and lifestyle that leaves the old way and embraces the way of Jesus.

We are all “spiritual zeros.” That means we are spiritually bankrupt, leaving us in a spiritual crisis. We are unable to save ourselves from our sins. We are unable to overcome our sin on our own. At this stage of our spiritual journey, we find that we are helpless and hopeless on our own. We are totally dependent on God. And that brings us to a place of utter humility and total dependence on God. Our journey toward becoming like Jesus starts when we realize we are empty and need to be filled with God. It begins when we know we need help. But if we are already full (of ourselves), then there’s no room for God to transform us into the person he wants us to be.

In this series, we’ve shared that the one word for our church this year is “rooted” and encouraged everyone to identify their own one word that might help them be rooted as well. The idea of being rooted ties directly into the concept of having deep foundations. Rooted means pressing deeper into Jesus. Deeper means that we don’t just hear what God is saying to us through the scripture, but we need to put his words into practice. Putting God’s words into practice will root us deeper in Him.

From time to time, we all can allow comfort to keep us from doing what God has called us to do; GO. A response to God will lead to the redemption of others, and he wants us to take risks in order to rescue those that don’t know Jesus. If we are going to be rooted in Jesus in 2022, we must be All In.

If there was ever a time for our church and our lives to be rooted in something that is fixed, secure, and true, it is now. In this season of upheaval and transition, it is imperative that the roots of our lives, both personally and corporately, go deeper. This year we believe that God is calling Pantano to be wholeheartedly rooted in Jesus. We believe that deeper roots will be like an anchor that will stabilize our church and personal lives in a world full of storms. Today we’ll introduce you to our church One Word and the scripture on which it is based. ‘Rooted’ means pressing deeper into Jesus, and we’ll begin the process of discovering our own One Word that will help us be rooted in him.

Jesus is the light of all mankind. Just like physical light, he is essential for a true spiritual life. Just like physical light, he helps guide our way. Just like physical light, he brings color and uniqueness to life. He shines into our dark world and exposes all that’s wrong, harmful, and destructive. And darkness cannot overcome light. And for that reason, he is the light that allows us to celebrate life to its fullest. Jesus is a light that guides us to thrive in this world that continues to be full of darkness, struggle, pain, and sorrow. That’s what Christmas is all about. God became a human being and lived among us. God came as close as he could. Jesus brings God into our world and our very lives. That’s spiritual light!

Love is more than feelings, and the kind of love that is a fruit of the Spirit is the kind of love that takes action. The Greek word for that love is agape, and that love is a love that takes action and understands self-sacrifice. Christmas shows us that God took action and sent Jesus to humankind because he was motivated by love. How are you going to express the kind of love that takes action?

How do we find peace in a world of conflict, suffering, and turmoil? We go to the Prince of Peace! Our only trusted source of peace is God himself. Peace with God and peace from God is possible because of Christ.

Gabriel the angel announced good news that would bring joy to all people. Jesus is that good news. And he alone is our source of joy. Joy will never be found or sustained when seeking it through experiences, people, accomplishments or possessions. Joy is found as we stay focused and centered on Jesus and the things of God. No one or no situation can rob us of that kind of joy. Joy is birthed in us as we allow the Spirit to fill us.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Patience is learning to trust God through the slow slog of life and all its challenges. The result of patience is that we’ll experience slow growth. The Spirit slowly transforms us. The fruit of the Spirit does not grow quickly. The root comes before the fruit. Patience allows the root of character to grow, so the fruit of the Spirit forms in us and is expressed outwardly. They grow and mature over a long time of faithful obedience to Jesus. That long obedience requires patience. ‘Fast and furious’ might be a great adventure movie series, but it isn’t how the Spirit transforms us. Slow growth is lasting growth that can withstand the hurricanes of life. You want fruit that matures and lasts.

We’ve become cynical and now accept that “nothing lasts forever.” That may be true in a fast-changing world, but God is faithful, trustworthy, reliable, and dependable – always! We’ve been let down by people who were not trustworthy and dependable. But because God is faithful, and if the Spirit of God is shaping our inner self, then we too will be faithful, trustworthy, and dependable as well. We can’t always control outcomes, but we can do our part, which is being faithful to do our part. First, we are faithful to God, and just as importantly, we will be faithful in our relationship with others.

God is kind and gentle. For that, we are all grateful! His kindness is expressed in action. He came to us in Jesus to bring his love close to us. He is Lord over us, but he is a kind and gentle Lord. As we allow the Spirit to have greater influence in us, we’ll treat others with a powerful, gentle kindness that not only helps, encourages, and comforts but it also will lead people to the very God who created that within us.

The words ‘good’ or ‘goodness’ don’t mean much these days. But if we look at the Bible’s definition for goodness, we begin to realize that it is strongly tied into the very nature of God, Himself. Jesus teaches us that goodness flows from the heart. God wants our hearts to become good so that we will be good and reflect his character. In this message, we explore how our hearts can become good as we experience the goodness of God.

How do we actually grow to become more and more like Jesus? Is it mostly on us to make it happen? Are there rules we can follow? No, there’s a much better way. It’s the way of the Spirit. It’s the Spirit who transforms our character into the character of Jesus. The fruit of the Spirit gives us a picture of the character of Jesus. As we stay connected to the Spirit and let him have his way in us, we’ll be transformed.

Have you ever experienced division because of your faith? Maybe you experienced separation or rejection because you decided to follow Jesus and your family or friends rejected, ridiculed, or made fun of you. There are times when following Jesus creates division, so don’t be caught off guard. Our love for Jesus must be first and full before all other “loves.” Because Jesus demands our full devotion and nothing less, know that relational division and conflict may follow.

Jesus is our example in all things, and our goal, as a disciple of Jesus, is to imitate his life.

Jesus asks us to love our enemies, which goes against our natural desire to hate and seek revenge. This type of love is a radical call to action that can only be lived out by God’s power in our lives. Loving our enemies displays the perfect love of God to those around us.

It is so easy for us to become complacent with sin in our lives. The world around us tells us that sin is completely normal and that we don’t need to be weird or different from our culture because of our faith. Jesus calls us to take drastic actions to be free of sin to experience the full life that he has for us.

The kingdom of God means that Jesus, the king, is fully in charge of our lives. When we enter the kingdom, the King transforms our lives so that we truly fit and are part of the kingdom. Our character changes to be more like Jesus. Our purpose changes. Before, we only lived to promote ourselves. Now we live for something bigger – to help bring God’s influence into our relationships. I live for something bigger, for the kingdom is bigger than me.

The kingdom of God is bigger than our preferences, and that very act is a witness to the beauty of the kingdom of God.

There is plenty that divides our country and the church these days. Polarization over politics, COVID measures, race, and more have become the norm. I believe Jesus wants us to ask questions like these in this current environment: 1) Which kingdom, party, or stance has the overriding influence in my life? 2) Am I evaluating my positions through the filter of faith rather than creating a version of faith that supports my positions? Jesus didn’t call everyone to agree on everything, but he did command his followers to put the kingdom first and be united by unconditional love.

The kingdom of God can be so personal and intimate, but it is also so much bigger than our worldview and our limited perspective. The kingdom is bigger than my world. King Jesus asks us to join him in his mission to love the least of these. This message is very focused on launching Compassion sponsorships in Santa Rosa, Ecuador.

There’s so much to do and so little time to get it all done. Our lives are full. Work, school, the kids, daily chores, and all the opportunities we don’t want to miss. The daily “urgent” almost always crowds out the important. But what’s truly important? How do we know what’s important enough to give our valuable time? Jesus commanded us to make the things of the kingdom just as, if not more, important. We can’t allow everything else to leave no room for living for the kingdom.

Our culture worships individual rights. Our rights, protected by the Bill of Rights and other laws, are critical to our freedom. But as part of the kingdom of God, we voluntarily give up our rights and freedoms at times and surrender them to serve others and put others first. That’s love. The key characteristic of the kingdom is love, for God is love, and it is his nature and character that must infuse all who are a part of his kingdom. Living in the kingdom is not about our rights; it’s about seeing every opportunity as an opportunity to love.

What is your life focused on? If we are focused or over-occupied by the things of this world, it can lead us to worry, but if we are focused on God and his kingdom, he promises to take care of us and provide for our needs. Jesus has a lot to say about worry. He teaches us that we are valuable to him, and as we seek first His kingdom, He will provide for our practical needs.

There’s something bigger. It’s bigger than the Bible, salvation, the church, or just about anything you associate with spirituality. It’s what Jesus spoke about the most. It’s what he ushered into our world. It is what we are to live for. It’s the kingdom of God. In this message, we’ll be doing a deep dive into the kingdom of God. We are looking into how we daily live a kingdom first life.

All of us, whether we know it or not on the surface, long to be connected to an even bigger story. That’s because our lives are all actually part of a much, much larger story. And there’s one story that brings joy, completeness, and satisfaction to all of our stories… that’s God’s story. God’s story helps us make sense of all other stories. God’s story is also called the Gospel story. The word “Gospel” simply means good news – it’s the good news about Jesus and what he did to reunite us with God. As we tell this good news story, we invite others to enter into God’s story.

Everything and everyone is part of a story. When we read the Bible, we are reading true stories that were recorded because they have meaning and can help us understand God and life. Your very life is a collection of stories. God is writing a story in and through you. You are God’s story. And God wants you to tell your story. Your story can often open a door to share God’s bigger story. In this message, you’ll get some practical help in how to tell your story.

Every one of us has and will face the difficult and powerful emotions of grief, depression, sorrow, and despair. These disliked feelings come from hurt, pain, and loss. We’ve all been hurt by those we loved and trusted. We’ve all experienced pain – emotional pain that’s inside that touches our thoughts and feelings. We’ve all lost people we love or things we cherished. How do we pull through the depths of pain and loss? In Psalm 42, we find encouragement and ways to face our feelings and fight for hope.

It is human nature to forget things. This Psalm reminds us that a life with God has so many benefits, and we need to remember what they are. When we remember God’s goodness, it results in praise!

Psalm 139 reminds us that God is personal, God is present, and God is forming us. This truth has the power to change how we understand who God is and how we understand ourselves as known, seen, and created by God.

Psalm 27 was written by King David, and we can get a glimpse of his relationship with God, and his confidence in God, as we read it. In this message, we explore where David’s confidence came from and how we can cultivate the same confidence in our lives.

All of us worship something or someone, and that worship is a witness to the watching world around us. Psalm 66 envisions all the earth worshiping God, but that comes through the people of God worshiping Him. Worshiping Him for what He has done in the past, what he is doing in the present (how he is forming us and being with us in the furnace of life and faith), and how he will be with us in the future.

We all pray the prayer of help. We face a situation that feels hopeless, overwhelming, and or even more than we can handle and say, “God, help!” Psalm 121 reminds us of where our help comes from and the help that God brings to us.

When we live on the other side of disruption, we don’t know what the future holds or how our risks and choices (or lack of risks) will affect our future, but our steps don’t stop with us. Whether or not we take that step, take that risk; is felt for generations to come. Ruth had no way of knowing that her acts of faith and courage would lead to King David and Jesus being a part of her family tree.

To live on the other side of disruption will always come with a risk. A risk to have the conversation, to press into our hurt or pain, to let go of something, to accept God’s grace. Many times, we miss what God has for us because we give up before our breakthrough happens.

Every one of us experiences disruption in our lives, and we often wonder where God is, what He is doing, and how we should respond.  This week we will look at how Ruth responded to her disruption and how God worked in her response. We cannot get stuck in disruption. We need to get up and do the right thing and then watch as God works out His big picture.

Disruption hits all of us at some point. It is not a matter of if, but when. For Ruth and Naomi, disruption hit first with famine and then the death of Naomi’s husband and her sons, one of them being Ruth’s husband. How do you find your foot in the midst of disruption and difficulty? Moving forward from disruption always begins with a choice, and that choice determines everything.

We put expectations on ourselves and others. We also put expectations on God. At one time or another, we think God should act or respond in a certain way. When we suffer, hurt, are abused, betrayed, or face a crisis, we are tempted to make a quiet contract or bargain with God and expect God “should” come through for us. When God doesn’t operate by our “shoulds,” we get angry, blame him, or even walk away from him because he did not do what he should! Our challenge is to trust who God is and what he can do rather than what we think he should do.

There’s a huge pressure to do the shoulds others put on us. Sometimes those expectations form or influence the shoulds we put on ourselves. The expectations of others often cause us to feel like we are being evaluated, judged, rated, or ranked. The should of others implies we have failed or fallen short. Our natural reaction is to be angry, resentful, defensive, or pull away. Worse, when we try to live in the expectations of others, we end up living someone else’s version of our life rather than the version God desires. Whose story will we live? The one God has for us or the ones others have for us? We have to learn to be bold and say “no” to the shoulds of others that distract us from the story God wants to write in our lives.

We have job descriptions for those who matter to us and those that are merely acquaintances. Often they are never made public as these expectations of others reside inside us. Out of those expectations or “shoulds,” we often try to manipulate others or make them feel guilty. We get frustrated, angry, or react in less Christlike ways when others “should” be doing what we want but aren’t. Our “shoulds” of others often go unmet, which tempts us to judge them or be suspicious that they are lazy, underperforming, uncommitted, unqualified, or even ungodly. How do we move out of this trap of having shoulds for others? We stop putting our shoulds on others when IN humility we place more value on others rather than on our agenda.

Internally, we are often hard on ourselves. What happens is that we allow a sort of court or trial to take place in our minds. This courtroom has a prosecuting attorney, judge, and jury that we allow to convene. And we are charged as guilty numerous times a day for the things we “should” or “should not” have done. Sometimes the shoulds come from others, or a religion, or our culture. How do we identify the wise “shoulds” and get free from the shoulds that are not shoulds from God?

There are two kinds of deaths we all face. One is always present, and one will eventually catch up to all of us. To ignore either will be one of the most costly mistakes we’ll ever make. To ignore either will cost us life itself – now and forever. The first death is when we are physically alive but dead or dying inside. We’ve sinned, and we’ve let things die in us like hope, passion, dreams, and faith itself. Jesus is inviting us to really live and come alive to God. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead can help us discover what it means to really live both now and for eternity. When we trust Jesus and follow him, we have forgiveness of sins and cross over from death to life. When our bodies quit, we will be resurrected to life that never ends. The moment we believe and commit ourselves to follow Jesus, we begin the journey of really living.

The perfect Jesus died for imperfect people. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that “God put the wrong on him [Christ] who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” What would drive God to offer us a deal that cost him so much? It’s a crazy deal. On the surface, it seems like a bad deal for God. Actually, it’s a great exchange. Yes, God paid a high price, but he got what he dearly wanted. The price he paid is an expression of how much he loves us, how much he values us, how crazy he is about us. Can you fathom the price God paid? Can you fathom how important you are to God? God is so crazy over you that he did a crazy deal. You are worth the price of his only Son. God has a crazy love deal that we would be crazy not to take.

We know from experience and research that Americans are not open to having spiritual conversations. So how do we create space for God in our conversations? Space for God, or God space, is when the seeds of faith are planted, watered, and nurtured. Space for God allows for the topic of God and spiritual things to be freely explored in a safe way. When we create space for God, anyone can raise their honest questions, doubts, concerns, and even their anger toward God or the church. Folks feel safe enough to be real and vulnerable to explore the spiritual world that they have previously feared or misunderstood or not understood. When we make space for God in a relationship, spiritual curiosity is awakened, and folks are open to hearing the story of Jesus and faith. The Bible tells us how to make space for God, and we’ll look at practical ways to facilitate spiritual conversations.

We are challenging our people to be on a mission to reach one person for Jesus, but the truth is that this whole concept can be very intimidating for most people. So many questions arise. Where do we even start? Do I know the right thing to say? The bible often illustrates farming and cultivation to teach us about spiritual truths, and what if these illustrations helped us change the way we think about evangelism. When seeds are planted and cultivated, they are in a process of growth and transformation, and it is the same with us as we engage our one. We are working with God to plant spiritual seeds in our one’s life, but it is God who makes things grow.

God wants to use you in your family, workplace, or wherever to help others know and experience Jesus. It’s time to stop making excuses that you are not able. God doesn’t need your ability; he only requires your willingness and availability. As has been said, Jesus doesn’t call the equipped; he equips the called. Have you made yourself available? As his disciples, we follow Jesus. Jesus’ mission becomes our mission and purpose. His mission was to “seek and save the lost.” Our purpose on earth is to follow Jesus and to seek and save the lost. The way of Jesus is all about finding the one. In this message, we’ll help you get started on identifying and engaging your one so you can love your one.

To be fully present with ourselves, God and others, we must pull away to be alone with God. One of our greatest needs and most difficult tasks as a follower of Jesus is silence and solitude with Jesus – to be alone, give our cares and worries to God, and listen to Him so that we can be fully alive in Him.

The way Jesus lived was simple (not necessarily easy). However, today, we live a full, complex life of worry with busy schedules and a need to acquire and own stuff. That complex life of consumption consumes our time, energy, money, and peace. The alternative Jesus offers is a simple life about having one clear focus that guides all our decisions and values. The simple life is a single focus life with a focus on God first.

Lent is a time of repentance, refocusing so that we can experience intimacy with God at a deeper level. One of the ways we do that is through the practice of fasting, Setting something aside to focus more on God, and in fasting, we set the stage for God to appear.

One of the practices we don’t often talk about is feasting, partying, and enjoying God and his gifts to us. Practices help us to be present to ourselves, God, and others, and feasting is a perfect place to experience all of these. It also gives us what we most need in our lives: Presence. There is power in presence, and for many of us, the best place to experience that is around a table. Jesus spent much of his time at a meal with people, and when he did, he was fully there.

We don’t just read the Bible to gain information. We read to know and experience God through reading his Word. As we read, the Holy Spirit shapes and changes us and makes the written Word to become the living Word in us. The Bible transforms how we live and who we become. But how do you read the Bible in a way that you actually hear the words God wanted you to hear? How do you stay on track? We’ll have four speakers who will help us see that there isn’t one way to read the Bible, but multiple ways God can speak to us.

When we look at the life of Jesus, we see that he wasn’t in a hurry. He got to where he wanted to go when he wanted to get there. He lived at a sustainable pace so that he could thrive in all relationships. In Matthew 11, Jesus invites us to give our burdens to him so that we can rest and experience life.

When God shows up, everyone nearby is touched and affected. When God is present, his influence can’t be ignored. God is the author of a God vision. God is the one who works in us and changes us. He is the one who works through us. He is the one who is at work in those around us. Good things happen because of God. Ask God to give you a clear vision for the purpose and mission he has for you to make a difference. Pray and develop plans to begin living out the purpose and mission God has for us. Be ‘all in’ with God to experience all that God wants to accomplish through you.

All dreams, visions, and change projects face challenges. We have to face them to move through them. Moral authority (influence) is what gives us the ability to confront the challenges in our lives. When we live a life that can’t be argued with, that people can’t turn away from, we will have influence that lasts.

To accomplish what God puts on our hearts, we will need to pray and plan. Often, we lean towards one end of the spectrum: we pray and wait and do nothing, or we plan and plan and take God out of the equation. But God’s hand was on Nehemiah as he prayed and planned.

We need to discover God’s vision for our lives and the way that we do that is by seeing what breaks God’s heart; praying through that so that we can move forward with our one word for the year that fits into the vision for our lives. That word or vision doesn’t have to be grandiose, it can be very simple like grandkids, work, etc.

Christmas is one of the biggest celebrations we have at Pantano, and we couldn’t wait to have it this year, with both our in-person and online experiences. The Church is a people, not a place—it’s every one of us—and as the Church, we’re looking forward to the hope that we’ll experience through God’s love.

When we think of joy, we often think of happiness, but joy is actually deeper than happiness and is not connected to our circumstances. As we are in the season of Advent, the season of waiting, we wait with anticipation, but we wait knowing what God has done in the past. These past works are not only what we hope for in the future, but also how we experience joy in the incomplete places of our lives today. We know God is at work and that He gives good gifts to his children. In Advent, we need to learn to enjoy the good gifts God has given to us.

In our relationships, our world, and in our hearts, we long for peace. No matter how difficult our circumstances, we can have peace right now. But peace is not the absence of conflict or trouble, rather it’s based on a real, active, and trusting relationship with God through Jesus. Jesus creates an open relationship with God that results in a powerful deep inner peace. So when peace eludes us, we refocus on the one who gives peace – the Prince of Peace.

Advent/Christmas is about hope, the hope that Jesus came and will one day come again, but we often lose that hope. 2020 has taken hope away for many of us, and a lot of us have become jaded. Yet, we are invited to hope in Jesus, because He hears us. Even as we wait, we can still have hope. Because the night does end, and the sun rises again.

We won’t, and we can’t grow on our own. We all have spiritual blind spots, and we need others to help us see them. God brings others into our lives and uses others to grow our faith. The Bible encourages us to choose wisely who we invite into our lives and who we allow to influence us. We need to be proactive in allowing others to help us become more like Jesus.

Our world operates on the principle of fairness and justice. Many people practically live by the belief of karma, even if they are not Hindu or Buddhist. It’s the law of “you get what you deserve.” However, Jesus turns that all upside down. He offers grace. He gives us what we don’t deserve and could never earn. And the grace he gives allows us to be unapologetic grace givers.

So many connect the church with a building. During the seven plus months of COVID, we did not have physical services, but we were still the church. The church in China is exploding and can’t have buildings. The church is bigger than a building. Church is who we are wherever we are. That’s because the church is part of something bigger – the kingdom! So we put the kingdom first in our lives and as a church body. We look to join God wherever he’s at work and help expand God’s influence in our lives and spheres of influence.

Jesus tells a story about a shepherd leaving the flock of ninety-nine sheep to go find the one. He tells the story in the context of his own example. He welcomed and connected with those who were considered lost and needing to repent. Everyone has value and matters to God. So we go looking for the one who needs Jesus. There’s nothing that matters more.

At some point, we look up in life and think, “I expected life to turn out differently.” We expected to be married by a certain age or that our marriage would go a certain way. That we would have kids by now, or they would play out differently. The same goes for our health, our careers, house, etc. What do you do when your expectations in life aren’t met? If we aren’t careful, we end up disappointed and cynical, which leads us to a place of bitterness.

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© 2022 Pantano Christian Church | All Rights Reserved.

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