Why enough will never be enough

As we leave summer behind us and look toward fall, let’s not forget what we learned this summer from the life of Solomon, “The Prodigal King”.

The Prodigal King knew what it meant to have it all. He was the richest man in the world (perhaps the richest in history).  His wallet, his stomach and his bed were full;  So why did he feel so empty?

Some people hit rock bottom, but not the Prodigal King—he hit rock top.  At the end of his life he had come to this conclusion:  If you make the primary pursuit of your life ANYTHING under the sun, even if you get EVERYTHING, enough is never going to be enough.

The Prodigal King is like an ancient folk singer—pointing the people to this truth: you’re going to serve SOMEBODY or SOMETHING and if you want to be finally fully satisfied, that SOMEONE needs to be God. Fear God and do what He says.  God is the more you’ve been looking for.

So as the leaves start thinking of leaving the trees, let’s decide that we are going to learn from this Prodigal King who had everything under the sun—and found it deeply inadequate.  The stuff this world has to offer will never satisfy.  Instead of pursuing everything “under the sun”, let’s choose the road less traveled.  Let’s fear God and do what He says.  He is our maker, our father and our judge. We choose to live by his owner’s manual because he made us.  He knows what makes us tick and what we need to do to live a full life.  We choose to live the life He has mapped out for us because He’s our father and loves to give us good things.  And ultimately, when we reach the end of our earthly lives, His opinion is going to be the only one that matters.

So thanks, Prodigal King, for figuring out for us, thousands of years ago in a distant land, that we can skip the empty, fruitless of pursuit of everything “under the sun” and instead, find the MORE we’ve been looking for in God’s son.

- Pastor Mike

What If or What Now?

By now you’ve most likely seen the final of the men’s 100m at the Rio Olympics. 

Usain Bolt won the race to become the first man ever to win Olympic gold 3 times in a row in the 100 m.  21 year old Canadian athlete Andre De Grasse, who has only been running competitively for four years, earned the Olympic bronze medal.  Usain Bolt himself has anointed De Grasse as “the next one”, the next dominant sprinter in the world.  But how his journey started might surprise you.

In 2012 Andre was heading into his final year of high school at Milliken Mills high school in Markham, Ontario looking forward to playing varsity basketball.  It soon became apparent that there weren’t enough guys who wanted to play so the team was cancelled. He begged his mom to let him switch schools, but since he had switched schools once already for basketball she said no way.

So, Andre De Grasse had a choice:  Wallow in “what if” (What if my school had a basketball team?  What if my mom had let me transfer?) or ask “what now?”  For months De Grasse wallowed in “what if” but in May of his senior year of high school, things changed.  He went to a track meet to watch a friend and decided to compete himself.   Wearing basketball shorts and borrowed cleats, he finished second in the York regional final.  In that moment, he stopped asking “what if” and starting asking “what now”.

The rest is the beginning of Olympic history.

Today, this week, this month, you will face adversity and you will have a choice to make: ask “what if” or “what now”.  What if is weak.  What now is powerful. What if is giving up. What now is persevering.

So, what now?

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

 

- Pastor Mike

The Southside Haiti Free School Project needs you.

AUGUST 2016 update

Summer is half over.  School supplies are filling up the aisles of every store we walk into, even though heading back to school is the last thing kids want to think about!  In Haiti, heading to school is a dream that, for many children, will never become a reality.  Education is the way out of the cycle of poverty they and their families are stuck in but the cost of going to school puts it hopelessly out of reach for millions of Haitian children.

Enter The Haiti Free School Project.  10 years ago, Pastor Mike and a group of young adults asked a Haitian pastor in a small town called Mirebalais why there were so many children hanging around during school hours.  This pastor was a man who had a passion for that very thing—helping the poorest of the poor in his community get an education.  But he had no way to fund that dream.  This God-ordained connection led to the birth of The Haiti Free School Project that today feeds and educates over 400 children. Their dream of breaking the cycle of poverty has become a reality.

This school is funded entirely by Southsiders like you. 

So as you walk down the aisles of school supplies, remember the poorest of the poor in Mirebalais, Haiti and ask yourself if you can get involved.  40 dollars a month is all it takes to provide a hot meal and an education for one student at the Free school.  40 dollars a month is the cost of a one-way ticket out of poverty to a brighter future.  Get on board today!

 

To become a sponsor, or learn more about the project, visit www.haitifreeschool.com or drop by the Haiti table at Southside Church this Sunday, located at Sardis Secondary School at 8:30, 10:00 & 11:30 am each week.

What to do when you don't have a date

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Being single can be tough, challenging, and sometimes downright depressing.  But it doesn’t have to be. I want to give you some advice—a new way at looking at a fairly familiar verse out of the Bible.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.  (1 Timothy 4:12)

1. Don't let anyone look down on you. 

You don’t live your life for the approval of people, but from the approval of God.  Anything that needed to be proved for you was proven by Jesus through His death and resurrection.  If there are people who judge you because you’re single, that speaks volumes about them, not you.  Ignore them.

2. Set an example. 

Your life isn’t on hold until you start dating.  Every day is an opportunity.  When people watch your life, this is what they should see:  enthusiasm, positivity, joy, faith, and kindness. Today’s going to be great—expect it! Set an example with this attitude.

3. Be exemplary in your speech. 

If you allow your singleness to make you angry, it will show in the way you speak to and about others.  You will tear them down.  I have a better idea.  Build them up.  Since you were built by a perfect Builder in His image, embrace the opportunity to build others up instead of tearing them down.  Every word you speak to and about another person is a great responsibility.  You were born to be a builder.  Talk like it.

4. Be exemplary in your conduct.

You don’t have time to wallow in self-pity or waste time waiting around. There are people to see, things to do, goals to achieve.  What is your plan for tomorrow?  Next week?  Next year?  There are dreams you have and aspirations in your heart that are bigger than sitting around waiting for someone to like your online dating profile.  Dream big dreams.  Dare greatly. And then roll up your sleeves and, with God’s help, make each day your masterpiece.

5. Love. 

You heard me.  Love.  I’m not talking about romantic or physical love.  I’m talking about looking at the world through a new lens.  Love is a verb.  It's active.  Love is looking at the world around you and asking what you can give, not what you can take. Who can you love today?  Jesus promises that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Live a life of love, and you’ll see it play out in real time.

6. Grow in faith.

Read your Bible.  Go to church.  Join a small group.  God’s got some work He wants to do in you. Seek Him FIRST, and everything else will fall into place

7. Be pure. 

This goes beyond the “don’t have sex before you’re married” talk.  That’s a given, but purity goes beyond what you’re NOT doing.  I’m talking about being PURELY YOU.  Be yourself.  Don't pretend to be anyone you’re not thinking maybe more people will like you.  The last thing you need is to be with people who are with you because you’re good at pretending.  Be real.  Be purely you.  You’re amazingly YOU.  If they can’t figure that out on their own, forget them.

So don’t sit around watching your online dating account.  DO THESE THINGS and see what God does when you put Him first.

 

Love you guys and praying for you in this!

- Pastor Mike

Three Truths for Fathers

1.      The days are long. 

Being a dad is tough. When your children are young, they keep you up at night with their crying, when they get older, they keep you up at night worrying!  You can do this, Dad. You were born to be a dad. When you feel weak, ask God, and He’ll give you the strength and the patience and the love and the perspective be a wise and encouraging father, even in the midst of the long days.

2.      The years are short. 

They grow up so fast. Isn’t that always what old dudes like me say? But you know what? It's true. Your kids will grow up fast. What do you want to teach them? What kind of relationship do you want to build? What character qualities do you want to inspire in them? Before you know it, they’ll be 25. Approach today with 25 in mind.

3.      The time is now. 

There is only one thing in the universe you can control. You. Right now. You can’t change the past. You can’t change the future. You can’t change other people but you CAN control you.  Right now. So, to the fathers today, young and old, I ask you, what can you do today to bless your kids, to encourage your kids, to make your relationship a little bit better? The time is now, pops. Get it done.

- Pastor Mike

Click here to watch our Father's Day sermon! It's available online now:

What is your Road Rage telling you?

How was your commute this morning?  Do you find driving an exercise in frustration and stress?  Are you a “road rager”?  Let me put that a different way:

  •  Do you regularly drive over the speed limit, or try to "beat" red lights because you are in a hurry?
  • Do you tailgate or flash your headlights at a driver in front of you that you believe is driving too slowly?
  • Do you honk the horn often?
  • Do you ever use obscene gestures or otherwise communicate angrily at another driver?

Look, we all have moments that we’re not proud of while behind the wheel.  But if you’re finding lately that you are having those moments more and more, here are three things your road rage is telling you. 

1.      You’re an angry person. 

Ask your family and your friends. They’ll back me up on this.  You’re not a happy camper, and it shows in your angry demeanor.  People are liking being around you less and less, because you’re angry.

Three possible reasons for your angry disposition.  You’re hurting, guilty or jealous.

 Maybe things that have happened to you in life have left you hurting.  You know what they say about hurting people right?  Hurting people hurt people.  Is it time to move past your hurt?  To forgive those who have hurt you?  When you withhold forgiveness, you can’t move past your past.  When you cling to a painful past, you’re unable to take hold of the opportunities of today and the dreams of tomorrow.  Let it go.

Or maybe you’re guilty.  The person you can’t forgive is yourself. You have said things you wish you wouldn’t have said.  You’ve done things you wish you wouldn’t have done. 

Three steps to beat guilt:  Confess.  Confess your sin to God and the person you’ve hurt.  Repent.  Apologize to God and the person you’ve hurt.  Make restitution where possible.  Move on. 

You might be angry because you’re jealous.  Can I give you one quick trip to beat jealousy?  Celebrate the people you’re tempted to envy.  Cheer them on.  I dare you to try it.

2.      The second thing your road rage is telling you is that you lack perspective. 

You’re yelling at that person or flashing your lights.  Why?  Because you’re caught up in the moment.  Start asking yourself, “how does this story end?”, before you flash your high beams.

Perspective will change the way you live.  It will help you decide whether or not to hit that snooze button, have that extra dessert, go to that party, reply to that text, or yell at your child.  How does this story end?

3.      The third thing your road rage is telling you is that you’ve forgotten your mission. 

Jesus said the world will change when Christ followers display LOVE.  It's easy to love the lovable.  Not so easy to love the jerk who just cut you off is it?  What if we lead with love…when we look at that driver in front of us and say, “You’re more important than me”, take a deep breath, and move on?  That simple change in attitude would make the world a better place.

- Pastor Mike

 

* want more information about Southside Church? Click the button below to learn what we're all about!

3 things to keep in mind today if you are anxious

1.      You’re not strange or inferior if you struggle with anxiety. 

In the Bible, Esther was anxious when she was called to save the people of Israel, Jacob was anxious when he had to meet again with his brother Esau.  David, the one-time shepherd turned king of Israel also knew anxiety: In Psalm 139 he wrote, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

2.      God has not forgotten you. 

In the Bible, there is a story about a little servant girl named Hagar.  She is in trouble, alone, and ready to give up on life.  Then God shows up with His promise of hope and a future.  She said in response, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Remember today that God sees you, He loves you, and He has not forgotten you.  Put your trust in Him and hold on to His promise that he will never give up on you.

3.      Because of Jesus, we can move past our anxiety. 

In Matthew 6 Jesus compels us to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness”, and when we do so, the circumstances of our lives will fall into place. We don’t have to be anxious.  Jesus tells us to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). 

When life is filled with uncertainty and fear, we can count on God to be faithful and unchanging. In Isaiah God says, “I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Jesus died on the cross for you, that’s how much He cares. No price was too great to purchase your salvation. 

Knowing that God is with you no matter what can release you from fear and anxiety.

- Pastor Mike

 

* I hope you had a chance to join us for our Brainstorm series where we looked at what God has to say about depression, anxiety, insecurity and bitterness! If you missed it, click the button below to watch it now:

3 things you need to know about depression

What does the Bible have to say about mental health? 

I hope you had a chance to join us for our Brainstorm series where we looked at what God has to say about depression, anxiety, insecurity and bitterness. If you missed it, click the button below:

Some truths about depression: 

1. Being depressed is NOT a sin. 

There is a book in the Bible called Lamentations which means a passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping. 

Moses, called “a friend of God”, said these words (to God no less!): “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me” 

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was named “the weeping prophet” and the apostle Paul, who wrote 2/3 of the New Testament said, “we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 

2. God has not given up on you. 

In Hebrews 13:5, God says, “NEVER will I leave you. NEVER will I forsake you” 

Even if you have given up on you, God has not and will not. 

He knows your name. He knows every thought you have. He knows your highlight reel and your behind the scenes footage. He knows your victories and your defeats. 

And He loves you anyway. 

3. Winning is getting up every time you fall. 

Proverbs 24:16 says: “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.” 

If you’re battling depression today, get up one more time. What do you need to do today? Ask for help and/or prayer from a friend or family member? Make a doctor’s appointment? See a counsellor? 

Remember, you’re not in this battle alone. Jesus knows you and He is always with you!

- Pastor Mike