A Jealous God by Sue Stahl

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"You shall have no other gods before me. - You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” -Ex 20:3-6

I never really dwelt on this title of God and didn’t fully understand it.
Jealousy as I knew it didn’t seem to be a character I could associate with God.
Jealous people bear bad fruit. They are insecure, angry, envious. They want what someone else has. They will do foolish things to get what they want. They ruin relationships.
If anyone has felt the jealousy over a relationship where one has been rejected, cheated on, betrayed and ultimately replaced by another you can understand the strength of those feelings and may have seen some of the bad results of jealousy as mentioned above.

Through our recent church reading on Hosea I began to see God as a ‘jealous God’ but in a new light that would move my heart to say I am glad God has proclaimed Himself to be a ‘jealous God’.

Hosea is told by God ‘take a wife of harlotry’. (adultery, fornication, prostitution) (Hosea 1:2)
In reading Hosea, God parallels a defiled marriage relationship with the Israelites’ relationship to Him. (forsaking Him and following idolatrous practices) Relevant to the gospel is the parallel of Christ’s relationship to the church (his bride) and the same spirit of idolatry that is present today.
However, what stood out for me was God’s heart; the thread of His steadfast love throughout the story. Love is the motivation. His intense passion is for us to know Him and be known by Him. He is love and we are the object of that! The breadth and length and height and depth of that love He wants us to know! (Eph 3:18)
Wow, that is why God wants no other God’s before Him; no idols that we turn to instead of Him. His jealousy is our grace for He will let nothing separate us from His love.

In Hosea, the disciplines, punishments and consequences of forsaking God are evident which only seemed to make God’s steadfast love more profound.
This jealous God never stops pursuing us, never stops loving us. He stays in the details of our lives even when we are not in obedience. He stays to bring us back, to rescue, to redeem.

But they do not consider that I remember all their evil. Now their deeds surround them; they are before my face. -Hosea 7:2

And in the midst of it all with His alluring words and reminders, God’s thoughts towards us are revealed. His plans, His promises, His purposes will prevail. His steadfast love and faithfulness are unchanging. His jealousy has its cause.

pastYet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. - Hosea 11:3

present, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. - Hosea 2:14

future. For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed, when I restore the fortunes of my people. - Hosea 6:11

Prayer:

Thank you Lord, that You are a jealous God. Let us respond to how great a love you have for us and help us to recognize and remove idols from our hidden places.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. -1 John 5:21


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The Tree Lighting | Photo Essay

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Kids Fest 2018 (Photo Essay)

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God & Anxiety Event

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Last weekend, we were able to partner with Kristan Torres, a friend and licensed mental health therapist from Hope Christian Counseling in Boca Raton, to host a public event in our community called GOD & ANXIETY.


This was an event designed to encourage and inform people on the topic of anxiety from a Biblical standpoint. The evening focused on how GOD is able to help us, to speak to us, and to address our anxiety in practical ways. Ben Courson, director of Hope Generation, was also a guest speaker and shared some of his experiences with anxiety and how God has helped him in times of struggle.


You can listen to the audio or view the video of the presentation below. Please also feel free to share with anyone you think would be encouraged by the message!


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Don't Fear Anger by Kristan Torres

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As a therapist, I don’t shy away from emotions.  I appreciate and even encourage emotional expressions.  I can tell you wholeheartedly that I enjoy watching movies with lots of displays of relationship and family dynamics, and expressions of emotion.  

Displays of anger, particularly when expressed verbally, are powerful and typically give you a view into a person’s heart.  After all, recall what the second part of Matthew 12:34 says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  Our words give us away, particularly when we’re angry.  

Have you ever tried to pretend you weren’t upset with someone to their face?  How painful is this “act”?  Or maybe you tend to be passive-aggressive.  So, you never quite own your anger and therefore it comes out sideways, in underhanded jabs, leaving people wondering if they just got hit by something you said.  

Maybe your anger runs very deep, and it feels quite justified.  You may have had a loved one (or someone supposed to be a loved one) that wounded or betrayed you.  Is it right to feel anger toward them?  What do you do with it?

Let’s look more closely at Psalm 109.  This Psalm was written by King David and has 31 verses.  We’re just going to focus on a few of them.  First verses 1 and 2:

1Be not silent, O God of my praise!

2For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,

speaking against me with lying tongues.

David cries out to God, begging him to answer his call.  He describes what he is going through – people are slandering him.  Being slandered, lies being told about you, is one of the most painful things to go through.  Particularly when you have tried to do the right thing by the Lord and in your life.  So, we can all understand, David is angry about what he’s going through.

David then begins to describe line by line all that he would like to see done to his enemies.  We’ll look at a few verses here:

9May his children be fatherless

and his wife a widow!

10May his children wander about and beg,

seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!

11May the creditor seize all that he has;

may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!

12Let there be none to extend kindness to him,

nor any to pity his fatherless children!       

Can you relate yet?  If we’re honest, I think we all can.  I believe we all have been so angry as to imagine harm coming to those who have hurt us.  What’s amazing is that this intensity of anger is in the Bible – in a prayer to God.  And the intensity does not end here – there are more verses following these that describe what King David is asking God to do to punish his enemies.

However, 9 verses later, something changes.  David refocuses on who he is speaking to – Almighty God – declaring that his “steadfast love is good” (verse 21).  And then David acknowledges his own situation, “I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me” (verse 22).  See the verses below:

21But you, O GOD my Lord,

deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;

because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!

22For I am poor and needy,

and my heart is stricken within me.  

I believe we can find insight here.  Is the answer to anger found in acknowledging our own sin and need for God’s rescuing?  I believe so.  

But of course, similar to our other emotions, it’s that simple, and in some ways it’s not that simple.  What do I mean?  Well, the answer can be that simple but actually working though the anger isn’t always that simple.  

For some of us, the hurt is so deep, and the anger so strong, that we will need to express it over and over again to finally let it go.  The expression could be crying out to God, talking to someone we trust, writing therapeutic letters (a letter we write to the person we’re upset with, but don’t actually give it to the them), attending a support group, processing it in therapy, confronting the person we’re upset with, setting up healthier boundaries (what we say yes and no to for our lives), artistic ventures like painting, acting or writing, and so much more.  

But one thing we have to remember is that anger is not a “bad” emotion.  When we label emotions as “good” or “bad” it’s gets in the way of dealing with them.  Because our emotions tell us something.  As in the case of anger – it tells us something about what’s going on inside of us. 

In Psalm 4:4, King David instructs us:

4Be angry, and do not sin;

ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.

In other words, take time to reflect upon what is going on in your heart, and why the anger is there.  Do not simply react (such as sending a text you can’t take back) to feeling that way.  

The book of Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 25 and 26, the Apostle Paul instructs us: 

25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.    

First, he talks about speaking truthfully, which can, many times, prevent anger from getting rooted in your heart.  In other words, deal with the matter at hand – say what you have to say (ideally, speaking the truth in love).  

Paul then references Psalm 4:4 at the beginning of verse 26, “in your anger do not sin.”  It doesn’t say, ‘if you’re angry, you’re sinning.’  Sometimes we confuse the two and convince ourselves that it’s wrong to be angry, and we live inauthentic lives, never addressing offences or telling others or ourselves the truth.  But you don’t have to live this way.  

It’s impossible to cover every scenario in a blog.  But know that your story is important.  Please reach out if you need to talk or you need help processing how you’re feeling or figuring out what to do next.  You’re not alone.  We are here to help.


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Creator of Vines & Branches by Laura Williams

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“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

John 15:4-5

The Perfect Gardener

I am a terrible gardener. I love the idea of growing beautiful flowers in our yard and fresh herbs on our patio, but anytime I attempt it, it pretty much always ends in tragedy. Plant tragedy. Flowers eaten by bugs because I didn’t use the right spray. Herbs that turn into flower bushes because I didn’t cut them back in time—or at all. And inevitably, the sad, forgotten potted plant that has wilted and died because of neglect. This is what I do. Every. Time.

But God. God is the only truly PERFECT gardener. In the spiritual sense yes, but also in a very literal sense as well! God created the plants we see, he created the IDEA of vines, branches, trees, leaves, fruit, flowers—He created the plants that cover our world because they reflect HIS nature! 

God is a perfect gardener. His design is so immaculate, so detailed that we are only just beginning to truly understand all the beauty hidden inside what is visible to the naked eye. Even at the tiniest molecular level, under the strongest microscope, plants are wonderfully and intentionally designed with a system and structure to allow them to thrive. And we are designed with that same wonderful intentionality—not by chance, not merely hoping that we’d be able to make it. No, we were designed to live lives fully and abundantly as we abide in our Savior.

Common Creation

I think it is so amazing that Jesus chose to use a vine and its branches as the picture of how our relationship with Him was designed to be. He used arguably the most common creation in our world, living plants, as the picture of how we are to abide in Christ. This is something that I really love about Jesus. The way He teaches us about His nature and His love for us in such natural ways. Plants are everywhere! Everywhere we go, there are thousands upon thousands of sweet reminders in the grass, the trees, the branches above us. God uses the simple everyday parts of our world to show us such amazing things about who He is.

I think about God creating all the plants in the beginning, and I imagine His joy creating the first vines—knowing full well the imagery that was contained in such a common plant. The wonderful entangling of branches and leaves with the vines as they climbed up the first trees in the first garden ever made. He was creating picture after picture of His love for us. Picture after picture in His creation that showed His nature, His glory, and His goodness!

Then, years later, Jesus explained the vine and the branches to the disciples for the first time. He opened their eyes to what had been plainly seen but never truly understood until He opened their eyes! In the verses in John 15, Jesus showed, in a new way, how much we need to be drawing from Him. Our spiritual health, the fruit we are producing, and the growth we need is all completely reliant on HIM as our source. We are the branches drawing all we need from the Vine, Jesus. And His creation is a constant and beautiful reminder of this.

The Gardener’s Desire

We can clearly see God’s design for us to be intimately connected to Him in this passage. Isn’t it wonderful that God created us in a way that REQUIRES us to come to Him, to be dependent on Him? He knows how desperately we need Him, and He offers Himself as our strength, and gives us His Holy Spirit.

Sometimes we accept that things are the way they are simply because we do not know any different. But Jesus could have done things differently—He chose to create you and me because that was what He wanted to do! And He created us specifically in a way that causes us to thrive and grow when we are closest to Him. God designed us in this way because it PLEASES Him. HE wants to be near to US! WE need Him, yes! The branches cannot live without the vine. And yet, HE desires to be close to US. He wants us to be near to Him! 

We know that God’s nature is in us: just as we desire intimacy, love, relationship—these things come from HIM! God desires that we would abide closely in Him and spend time with Him. Knowing this has radically changed the way I view my time with Him. 

As a mom, I always want to spend real time with my kids—I want them to tell me about their day, to laugh with them, and to help them when they’re struggling. But when THEY express a desire for time with ME? That’s when I drop everything. If I know one of my children is waiting for me somewhere—I hurry to get there! 

Knowing that my Savior stands at the door of my heart, longing to come in and make His home with me! This changes my whole attitude toward intimacy. It isn’t my need for Him ONLY (though my need is inexpressibly great), it is HIS desire to abide with me that humbles my spirit and causes me to rush to meet Him.

So, Jesus gave us this picture: a vine and its branches. He is the vine, and we are the branches. May we remember what a good gardener He is, and may we see this wonderful picture in the common world around us. And I pray that we are drawn to closer intimacy with Christ as we remember how greatly He loves us. May we never forget all He has done to make it possible for us to come boldly to Him, welcome Him into our lives and hearts, and abide in His love.

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Will Torres | The Vision for Proclaim Church

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Redemption Church has been privileged to partner with Will and Kristan Torres as they are following God’s call to plant PROCLAIM CHURCH in Boynton Beach. We are blessed to have the opportunity to pour into them, coach and disciple them, and celebrate the work God has called them to. We are excited for how God is working in their lives, and we’d love to have you watch this short video to hear more from Will about God’s vision for this new church. 


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Proclaim Church Vision Night (9-23-18) | Photo Essay

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Waiting On His Return by Daniel Williams

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Jesus Is Coming Back!

This truth is important to say, important to live by, and important to remind ourselves. The Bible talks a lot about the imminent return of Christ, so I think it makes sense that we should talk about it too!

It seems like bringing up the rapture of the church and eschatology can be a sour subject for many Jesus-followers. A lot of people seem confused by studying the end times and say there are just too many different views and positions about this subject. People tend to fight with maps, charts and news reports in hand, and it makes sense that a lot of people want to avoid the subject for that reason alone. It has become an issue of division rather than a subject that we study and discuss with love for one another. For that reason, we, as the people of God, seem to have shied away from talking about it. People have been arguing so much on a position for so long that we have forgotten the person: Jesus. The fact remains that  Jesus IS coming back, and this is awesome! This is something that we should be talking about! 

We just recently finished our study about the afterlife, the rapture, and the day of the Lord in our Fundamentals of the Faith series of 1 Thessalonians; and you get the sense that Paul wanted people to know and live in the reality of Jesus’ return. 

Paul wasn’t shy about teaching new believers about how Jesus would return and how He is going to establish His kingdom here on earth for all eternity. In fact, he mentions this truth in every chapter of the 1 Thessalonians (1 Thes 1:9-10; 2:19-20; 3:13; 4:17-18; 5:9-10). Paul wanted these new Christians established in the faith, so he addresses the doctrine of the rapture.

And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. -Matt 9:15

In ancient jewish times it was common for a man to betrothed himself to a woman and then leave for a time. Being betrothed was much more than our understanding of engagement. It was understood to be like being married without actually consummating the marriage. The husband would usually give the bride’s father a gift of money for the woman (to take care of her and show the family how much he values her), and then he would go and prepare a place for the couple to live for their marriage. He typically would come back as soon he was done, and this would be as soon as possible. He would come back for his bride in a celebratory surprise for the whole town to see and they would finally get married, consummate their marriage and live together as one in their new home together forever.  (see passages like Deuteronomy 22:23-24; Ex 22:16-17; Matt 1:18; 25:1-10) 

I mention this tradition because the Bible (and Jesus Himself) commonly used this picture of Christ and His followers as a bride and groom (Matt 9:15; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:6-10). And just like a groom back in the ancient world, Jesus has gone to the Father to prepare a place for us (Heaven), has given us the gift of His Spirit as we wait for His return, and is coming back for His bride (the Church). And He is excited about this!

“…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” -Isa 62:5b

Jesus is Coming Back for His Church! 

This is what is known as the doctrine of the rapture. The word “rapture" is not in the ancient Greek text, but comes from the Latin Vulgate, which translates the phrase “caught up” with the Latin word, “rapturus,” from which we get our English word, “rapture.” The idea of the rapture of the church where we will be caught up to be with Jesus is found in other passages as well like 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” 

The verb translated caught up in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 means “to seize, or to carry off by force.” 

David Guzik says about this text, “In the ancient Greek, the phrase to meet was used as a technical term to describe the official welcoming of honored guests” I love that idea that Jesus views us as His honored guests for all eternity and really wants us to be with Him: His Bride, the Church. Jesus said in Luke 12:8, “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God.” Jesus isn’t ashamed of us and is proud to call us friends (John 15:15). He has gone to prepare a place for us, sealed us with His Spirit and promises to come back for us (John 14)

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also. - John 14:3

So why hasn’t He come back yet? 

Well, God is not cruel—letting us suffer here on earth as He looks from heaven, rather, He has delayed because He is a God of love! Jesus is coming back because He radically loves His Church and this same love has caused a delay. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 we see that Jesus WILL come back for His Church, but we need to trust that His timing is perfect. He hasn’t come back yet because wants as many people as possible to repent and turn to Him (2 Peter 3:9-10). And even through He hasn’t told us exactly when He is coming back, we can trust His Word. And He expects us to live in purity and expectancy for His return. 

“And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” -1 John 3:3

No one knows when the rapture will take place so we must live in expectancy. This is good for us because we can tend to be complacent as Christians. One of the main reasons I believe God didn’t reveal to us when exactly the day He would come back was so that we would live for Him every day. God doesn’t just want us to say a prayer to have “fire insurance” from hell and forget about Him. Jesus wants a relationship with us and for us to worship Him as Lord. When we believe we can see Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, at any moment, it helps purify us (1 John 3:3). This reality helps us understand our priorities and how we are to live right now in light of eternity (Colossians 3:2-4; Psalm 90:10-12). 

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” -Ephesians 5:15-16

What a hope we have as believers in Jesus! And the Bible tells us this hope will not disappoint (Romans 5:5).  So, we should be ready for His return and live in light of this wonderful truth. Let’s live for Jesus every day telling people this wonderful news that there IS a God who loves us, has died for our sins, gives us His righteousness, and makes a way for us to be His honored guest in Heaven for all of eternity. The rapture is just one of the beautiful doctrines of the Bible that shows us the wonderful character of Jesus, so let’s receive His Word by faith and live accordingly. 

Jesus is coming back. Although many people in the media or even our friends and family may not be thinking about this or talking about this reality, we are to encouraged to apply it to our hearts. As we ponder the great love of Jesus and how this doctrine shows us more of His wonderful character, let us be encouraged and live believing that Jesus could come back today!

 “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” -1 Thessalonians 4:18


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Meet Pastor Luis & Kim Vargas!

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We are really excited to introduce you to Pastor Luis and Kim Vargas, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Bachiniva, Mexico. You may already be familiar with the House of Blessing Orphanage because we have been actively supporting Jason and Jackie since they started the orphanage in Bachiniva in 2012. What you may NOT know is the reason Jason was familiar with the tiny mountain town of Bachiniva in the first place!

Jason Sanchez (missionary and orphanage director) is originally from Washington State. Jason served on staff as youth and worship pastor under his dad, Pastor Ron, for many years. Pastor Ron’s sister is Kim Vargas! Jason’s Aunt Kim and Uncle Luis were the first ones to venture down to Bachiniva and follow God’s call to minister to the people there. It was this connection to Bachiniva that allowed Jason and Jackie to become familiar with the area of Bachiniva and see the need for a Christian orphanage there!

Pastor Luis and Kim moved from New Mexico to Bachiniva with their 5 children in 2004 to start a church for the people there. The church began as Pastor Luis began to teach through the book of John to a group of adults and their children outside in the patio of Luis’ sister, Armida’s, house.  After a few services outside, the church moved inside a comercio (a small grocery store) that was in Armida’s house. They met there for about two years. During that time the Lord stirred on many people’s hearts to come alongside the work. Since 2006 they have been worshiping in a beautiful church that was built with the help of many churches. 

When Jason and Jackie began to build the orphanage in Bachiniva, Pastor Luis and Kim immediately offered their support and have been actively involved in that ministry as well. Redemption Church has taken several mission trips to visit and serve at the House of Blessing Orphanage, and each visit has also allowed us to connect with the Vargas family and the beautiful church fellowship there. Pastor Daniel has even taught (with the help of a translator!) at their weekly services!

Please join us in praying for Luis and Kim and their family as they continue serving Jesus and the people of Bachinva. It is not an easy place to live or pastor. They are in constant need of encouragement and support. Redemption Church is supporting the Vargas family both in prayer and financial support, and we would love to have you lifting up the needs of their family and community along with us. God is doing great things in Bachiniva!


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