June 2, 2018

Today you should read: James 5:13-20

This end of James focuses on prayer, healing and the importance of bringing back wandering Christians.

Verses 13-18 focuses on healing through prayer. People get confused with some of these verses and I’d love to give my interpretation. Some people believe verse 14 is an anointing oil being used for medicinal purposes but I believe it is actual oil that symbolizes consecration and should be practiced by the church today. In fact, we have done this with several people within our congregation. Verses 15-16 have been taken out of context with some people when they assume this is the reason why someone doesn’t heal every time which is very dangerous. Because it’s in Scripture, we see that there’s truth in it but we can’t assume every sickness is because of a personal sin and a lack of faith. Sometimes that could be the case and others it’s because it’s God’s will and living in a fallen world. What we do know is that like verses 17-18 says, we must always be praying for the suffering and sick. God still heals. God still does miracles.

Verses 19-20 are a great reminder for us of going after the wandering Christian. We all know someone who would fit this description so what’s holding you back from trying to bring them back? I read these verses a little over a year ago and was so convicted by them that I took 2 entire days to call and text people in my past student ministry, past church in Columbus, Ohio and even people I didn’t know at West campus, just trying to follow up and bring them back, doubling my work for those couple of weeks.

The portrait of a wanderer is painted with rebellion and danger. He roams around and never settles down. His relationships are momentary. He is lost, vaguely wondering if there’s something better, but caught in the not-so-merry-go-round of wandering. And wanderers can be daughters as often as they are sons.

Despite this bleak portrait, there’s still hope for a wanderer. No one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. When James writes, “if anyone among you wanders,” there are no disclaimers—and our excuses for not pursuing them fall flat.  “She’s too far gone,” “His life is too complicated,” or “It’s too messy; I can’t get into that mix” are all wrong. This is about anyone.

So, I’m here to let you know. That’s what it says in verse 20 “LET HIM KNOW” God can use you to bring that person back.

Who do you need to go to? Will you go? Who specifically?

Does God’s Spirit bring a specific person to mind whom He wants you to approach? Perhaps it’s someone obvious—a child, a sibling, a close friend—to whom your heart immediately turns.

Go bring that person back. Don’t leave a tract in his mailbox. Don’t hope she drives by a billboard. Don’t sail a gospel blimp over his neighborhood. Rescue requires direct contact and a personal touch.

Going and finding a wanderer is messy business. Your heart will be heavy, your feelings may be hurt, and your toes could get stepped on. But are we selfless enough to risk our own comfort to rescue a wandering soul? God forgive us when we huddle in our holy enclave and don’t allow our hearts to be moved for people at risk.

If you were once a wanderer and have come home, someone was used by God to bring you back. It’s time to reciprocate that priceless gift. Ask God to enable you to reach out, then go get the wanderer!

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor


June 1, 2018

Today you should read: James 5:7-12

They say patience is a virtue – and I suppose that it is.  It sure doesn’t come natural for most of us.  It’s so much easier to be impatient and want things to happen now.

James is exhorting us to develop and maintain patience in our lives.  He told us in chapter 1 to allow patience through trials to work it’s way out in our lives – and through trial – our patience (among other things) is developed and we will be complete not lacking in anything.

Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:4

James reminds us of Job – and his patient enduring through trials.  What an example he is to us.

How’s your patience quotient?

  • with your kids?
  • when you’re driving?
  • at the grocery store?

What does the Bible say about patience?

  • It’s a command

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him… Psalm 37:7

  • Love is Patient

Love is patient and kind… 1 Corinthians 13

  • Patiently Serve

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

  • There’s strength in it

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

God provides us with many opportunities in life to develop our patience, if we have a heart to do so.

“The times we find ourselves having to wait on others may be the perfect opportunities to train ourselves to wait on the Lord.”  Joni Eareckson Tada

What’s God doing in your life?  How’s He at work to develop you into a fully committed follower?   Today’s a new day – practice patience as you live your life.

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

May 31, 2018

Today you should read: James 5:1-6

One of the great things about the book of James is how it challenges our loves. Today, we are challenged in our love for money—and how we get it.

James starts out with a hard statement, “Come now, you rich! Weep and cry aloud over the miseries that are coming on you.” (NET) With that little tid-bit of encouragement, he goes on to explain himself. James states that everything a person could own is ultimately headed toward destruction, and “Oh, by the way, so are you” (2–3). If we really view ourselves as living in the last days (and you should, because Christ could return at any second), then the love of wealth and treasure makes little sense. Not only that, but James warns against those who make their wealth through the mistreatment of others (4).

James is essentially saying Christ could return at any second and you not only fear poverty more than judgment, but you are also mistreating people to pursue your idols. You are finding ways to multiply your sins. A poor analogy might be that this is like your home catching on fire and instead of getting out, grabbing what you can, you bring people into the house to carry out all of your belongings. What I mean is that you are increasing the suffering of others while ignoring clear priorities. What are the priorities with a burning house? Get out with the people you love (…and even those you don’t). What does a computer, TV, or any other thing matter when lives are at stake?

As the prophet Malachi wrote, “For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord who rules over all. “It will not leave even a root or branch. 2 But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication will rise with healing wings, and you will skip about like calves released from the stall. 3 You will trample on the wicked, for they will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the Lord who rules over all.” (Malachi 4:1–3, NET)   

James’s clear teaching on the appropriate placement of our loves is well timed. If you haven’t heard, Center Point is doing a Summer Study on the issue of Biblical Finance. We will be watching a series of videos by Dave Ramsey called Life, Money, Legacy. In addition, we will be breaking into small groups to dig into God’s Word as well as digging into our bank statements to see where they align. And because everyone has questions regarding finance, we will have a panel of experts to answer almost anything you can throw at them. No matter where you’re at in your spiritual and financial journey, you should come. This summer will be an amazing opportunity to align your hearts to the Lord’s heart by means of aligning your pocketbook to His Word. I promise, you will not want to miss it!

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

May 30, 2018

Today you should read: James 4:13-17

It is interesting how we want to make so many plans. It is not a bad thing to plan things out or to look ahead for the future. However, James is making a point that we can do this wrong. We tend to look at our lives and we decide what direction we want to go, how we want to get there, and what things we are going to avoid and go towards. More often than not we decide…

The problem with that is exactly what James points out. The merchants have these plans for how to make the most profits and when to arrive and leave places with no thought to consulting the Lord about how that fits into His will. We make all of these plans as if we know what the future holds. But the reality is that this life is not certain. James describes it as a mist, here for a little while then gone. We forget that the Lord is the only one who know the outcome of the next moment. So when we take it upon ourselves to decide and dictate all the areas of our life without consulting God we place ourselves in the category of pride.

This is why James makes a point to say that whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. We know that we are not supposed to be the ones in control of our lives. And yet we try to be, which lands us in sin. Again it is not bad to plan when we are planning for what God wants for us. When God makes clear the path we should do our due diligence to follow that path (which will require planning and preparation). But we should avoid thinking that we know best, and that we can figure out the path and plan it out on our own.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate