Join Lead Pastor, Rollie Simmons, on a regular basis as he shares a little about what's going on in his heart, mind and life in general.  Your comments are welcomed and encouraged.

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who are you

Have you ever noticed on some peoples Facebook or Twitter accounts that they make an attempt to describe themselves in a short statement? For example,  my Twitter account reads, “I love many things – my wife, my kids, my church (Trinity), Starbucks coffee, and last but certainly not least, Football!” After looking at several others accounts, I started to feel a little self-conscious.  Mine seemed to read a little shallow, a little boring and not very creative. I mean, I didn’t have anything in there about Jesus, what I do for a living, or something profound. From reading my headline, one could actually judge me as being selfish and self exhorted (as there are three “my’s” in there.)
 
The reality is that I am so much more than what I post on my Twitter account. To find out more and get to know who I am, you would have to spend time with me and talk with me. I guess what I am trying to get at is that we cant know anyone by a Twitter description or a sound bite. However, it seems in our fast paced world of social media, we draw a lot of conclusions about who people are, and most likely those conclusions are either wrong or shallow.
 
Let’s not settle for Twitter descriptions of people. Don’t compare yourself to other peoples Facebook accounts. You are more than a sum of a few words. God has (and is crafting) your identity. 

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14.

unplug

Many of you know that Thursday is my study day. As a creature of habit, I generally visit the same Starbucks to study, occasionally stopping at a place that is new to me. 
 
As is my custom, I was at my favorite Starbucks today and a guy that often works from this same location was here as well.  Generally, we will say hi to one another and at some point he will make his way over to where I am working and want to start a conversation. 

Today, I settled in with my coffee, Bible, notebook and headphones and was really trying to make some headway on my sermon for this Sunday. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this gentleman approaching me and silently groaned within at the coming interruption. For whatever reason I was not in the mood and really didn’t want the distraction. As he began to talk about the latest book he was reading (By the way, he is a believer), all I could think about was putting my headphones back in and getting back to work. Then it happened, that still small voice spoke to me saying, “Really, Rollie? What your doing is so important that you can’t unplug for a moment to listen to this brother?” With that still small voice came a sharp pain of conviction. Lord, help me to learn to unplug, look up and be willing to listen to those around me. Well, that’s my confession today. Lord help us all to unplug and listen.

barriers

Annette and I were driving over to speak at youth camp this past weekend. As we got over the pass and came down the other side, suddenly traffic slowed down to a snail’s pace. Due to construction, there were barriers up causing all of the traffic to be funneled into one lane. Now I understand that we all need boundaries, but these were barriers.

Barriers are meant to restrict, to keep in, to keep out, and to separate. I think we are living in a society that seems committed to giving people specific identities and putting them in certain categories or groups.  This creates barriers that restrict us from busting out of our lane and relating to one another. Jesus didn’t allow anyone to put him into a box. He defied the categories and barriers that the systems of the world had put up. He was told, “You can’t do that;” “You can’t talk to those people;” “You can’t go there.” Jesus broke through all of those barriers- for the sake of love. The world wants us to stay in the categories that have been assigned to us. For the sake of loving others, we must burst through those barriers.

May the Lord help us to build bridges rather than barriers.

you

I saw this quote the other day and I think it is good for all of us to consider: “You are you. Now isn’t that pleasant?”- Dr. Seuss

This is a great quote because it seems we can spend an awful lot of time wishing we were something or someone else. If not something or someone else entirely, we at least can find ourselves wishing certain thing were different about us. Oh, that we were taller or shorter. Oh, that we were smarter. Oh, that we were richer. Oh, that we were thinner. Oh, that we had more hair and straight teeth (insert Rollie here). I think you get the point.

The point of Dr. Seuss’s quote is that you are uniquely you and no one else can be you. What is uniquely you that others count on? Look up too? Admire? I am sure if you ponder this you will come up with several things, as long as you stop pondering only on what you wish was different about you. And, of course, it also needs to be said that this quote needs to apply to our view of the people around us. Honor those around you for who they uniquely are as opposed to what you wish they would be. I think we would all have a lot more peace within ourselves and in our relationships if we lived out Dr. Seuss’ advise.

I close with this: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:4

turns

     Have you ever been riding in the back seat of a car not paying attention at all to the road ahead of you (reading a book, playing a game, napping etc.), when the driver suddenly takes a drastic and unexpected left turn? You know, the kind of turn that sends you flying to your right or (if not for your seat belt) all the way across to the other side of the car or the lap of the person next to you? When it happens you immediately look to the driver and to the road wondering what just happened. Well, have you noticed that sometimes life can be like that? You were cruising along living your life, staying in your lane, minding your own business when suddenly life took an unexpected left turn. Most of the time those events are not events that we like or love. I don’t know about you, but those kinds of left turns in my life are not usually something exciting or wonderful.

     Well, Annette and I have recently experienced one of those left turns and there are some lessons I would like to share from our experience. One, once you’ve got your balance back, you are more equipped to adjust to the situation than you first thought. Two, God already has prepared your way forward. Three, the people closest to you will help you. Four, the new reality may actually end up being better than the old reality. Five, you can’t always predict these life changing events, but you can expect them-because that’s life!

     So, on your trip down life’s road, realize that you are not usually the one driving. Things can happen in front of you that you didn’t expect but be of good cheer-you will adjust, and life will go on.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

"questions"

I had the particular joy today to stop by my daughter's school where she teaches Language Arts to 7th graders. I came during her 25 minute lunch break to bring her a sandwich and visit with her. She then asked me to stay to meet her class who she informed that if they got right to work on their first assignment then they would take a break and she would let them ask me some questions about her. Well, they all got really excited about the opportunity. We had fun for about 15 minutes while I fielded questions about my girl, Abbey. Oops, I mean Ms. Simmons! I told some funny stories about Abbey growing up and you could see the interest in their young faces trying to reconcile their perception of what Ms. Simmons was like with the stories I was telling about her. Afterward, as I drove away, I was thinking of the questions they had asked about Abbey. There were several questions that I think we all have had to deal with like 'What was an embarrassing moment?', 'Did she ever get detention?', 'Did she have a boyfriend?', or 'What was she good at?' etc.
 
However, one girl raised her hand and asked, "What was Ms. Simmons afraid of?". Wow, great question! So I shared what I thought were some of Abbey's fears. At a deeper level I think the question was generated from a young lady trying to process how to deal with her own fears. I think that’s a great question to ask ourselves. If we can’t  or won’t identify our fears then we stay controlled by those fears and don’t move forward in our lives. So let me ask you, what are you afraid of? And if someone close to you had to answer that question for you, would your answers be the same?
 
“The Lord is my light and my salvation whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life whom should I dread? Psalm 27:1

"losing to gain"

I saw this quote the other day by George Herbert, “Sometimes the best gain is to lose”. It struck me because I was meditating on our upcoming week of Prayer and Fasting. Fasting really is all about that quote. We set aside certain foods or activities so that we might gain in our hearts, our lives, or our relationships some sort of gain that may not come to us if we aren’t willing to lose some of our normal privileges. But I think that quote goes much deeper than just the subject of prayer and fasting. Jesus said “He who finds his life will lose it". So let me ask a question; what would you hope to gain in 2018? Which leads to this follow up question; what are you willing to let go of or lose in order to gain it? Sometimes our biggest gains come from our biggest losses. 
 

"it's a wrap"

Well, Christmas is over; it’s a wrap. It is amazing how many preparations go into it and then it’s over all too fast. Annette has given me the dreaded news that tonight I need to bring in all the Christmas storage bins and begin to take all the decorations down inside and out. This is my least favorite part of Christmas, but I find some symbolism in this process. We are not only wrapping up Christmas, we are also wrapping up a year and beginning a new one. Is there anything that is going on in your life or something that happened this past year that you need to take down and put away? I bet there probably is for all of us. Some of these things that we need to put away have been left out far too long, like the person who still has their Christmas lights on the house in May. Something about that just looks really wrong.
 
Of course the real strategy should be to put those things away and then get rid of the bin all together, not to ever bring those things out again. So, as you take down some decorations and store them away, examine what should be put away in your life, heart or mind and get rid of it for good. 2018 here we come!
 

kindess

I recently had the opportunity to commit an act of kindness last week that cost me very little but it turned someone else from sorrow to joy. The look of gratitude on her face when she finally realized something was for once going to go right for them was priceless. Overall, we live in a world that can be very mean and cruel. The news bombards us with the stories of how creative men can be at hurting each other. The news screams outrage and blame. A friend reminded me that kindness can go a long way. I don’t know how far my little act of kindness went for the individual I helped, but by the huge smile on her face as she said to me “God bless you!” I’d like to believe it went a long way. Can I ask you a question? What if for a whole week you paused before every conversation, every encounter, every hard moment, every casual encounter, and simply asked ourselves, “What would Kindness DO right here, SAY right here, BE right here?”.  I think we might be stunned in what we would see and experience. I think kindness could do a whole lot more than we think. “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

attention

Well, the Simmons house got a new cat about a month ago and it is still very much more like a kitten than a cat. Now, anyone that knows me knows I am not a real big fan of pets, but of course my wife loves cats. After several years of not having a cat around the house, Annette really wanted to have one again so she found this little feline and brought it into our home. Everything has worked out just fine because Annette works from home and has the availability to watch him, take care of him, and give him attention, which allows me and the cat to stay in our own spaces. Well, things changed drastically this week as Annette had to leave on a business trip for a WHOLE WEEK. That Cat of ours has been spoiled by the constant attention of Annette and now she is gone and I am gone all day. I think you can probably see where this is going. That Cat needs attention. Now, when I say needs attention I mean NEEDS ATTENTION!! The minute I wake up in the morning until I walk out the door that cat is all around my feet, purring and meowing, demanding attention. When I get home from work it’s at a whole other level of neediness. So, the other night I was sitting on the couch watching baseball and he came and sat by me. I was cool with that. He laid there and would paw at my arm but that’s as far as the affection was going to go. All of a sudden he reached back and clawed at my hand. And yes, he broke the skin! Then he just looked at me. Of course the Cat (whose name is Nigel) was simply insisting that I pay more attention to him and striking at me was his way of saying that.
 
How much is that just like us as human beings? We crave attention. There is nothing wrong with wanting some attention. God made us that way so we could reflect His desire to know us and love us and for us to know Him and love Him. The sad thing is that sometimes we crave attention so badly we srtike out in hurtful and painful ways thinking that’s the only way we will get our needs met. I have seen too many painful and hurtful things done by people desiring attention. 

Be careful when you feel the need for attention or affection that you don’t lose sight of your position as a child of God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. Set your attention on Him first and see what He has for you.
 
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
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