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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new

As I sit here studying and listening to worship music, I can see the beautiful weather out there today. Where I am studying, I am surrounded by huge glass windows, which give me a full panoramic view. It’s a great day out there today! It could only be better if my view included the water. Even though I could still see small traces of snow in my yard when I left my house this morning, I sensed that Spring was just around the corner. There just seemed to be something fresh in the air.
 
It made me think of Isaiah 43:19 “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
 
A few thoughts about seeing the new thing:
 
First, get a view! Lift your head and your eyes so you can see beyond your limited means. This Starbucks has large windows, much larger than the windows in my office, which increases my view.
 
Second, enjoy what you can see! Just as I would prefer a view of the water, I am not going to let what I wish I could see spoil what I can see.
 
Third, don’t get sidetracked by the small remains of what is old. Just as there is a small amount of snow in my yard, I know that Spring is on its way and the snow will soon melt away.
 
I pray you have a blessed day sensing the new things that are on the way.
 

christmas wonder

How many grown adults out there still feel a little twinge of excitement when you think about what could be in those presents wrapped beneath the tree that have your name on them? I have to confess that I still get impacted by the wonder of gift giving. This year, my wife and I have promised to substitute gifts for some big projects around the house that were costly. However, I have noticed a couple of packages being hurriedly shoved away so that I don’t see them. Even though I know we promised to suspend gift giving, I can’t help but have a little excitement over the fact that I think Annette has broken the promise and has gotten me something. I know I shouldn’t expect anything, but I also know my wife, she can’t help it. She will see something for me and will just have to get it.

So let me make a leap and apply this to the wonder of the love of God. I know He sent the Messiah to pay for my sins and is preparing a place for me in Heaven. I shouldn’t think that I should ever get anymore blessing from Him. That Gift was costly enough. But the wonder of Gods love is that He can’t help Himself but to continue to pour out His love on me.

I pray that you can awaken that wonder in your own life this Christmas.
 

the holidays

The holidays are fast approaching! I can’t believe we are one week away from Thanksgiving and 40 days from Christmas. Tis the season to be busy! It seems like the holidays can put our normally busy lives into hyper drive. We all deal with having to spin multiple plates in our lives and the holidays just add several more to the mix. We endeavor every year to enjoy this holiday season more than any before, but it can seem like the more we commit to enjoying the holidays the busier we get.
 
What if we just decided not to spin the holiday plates of business? What if enjoying the holidays meant that we weren’t going to do more during this season but less? What if we made a list of all the activities, traditions, and expectations and simply cut some things out? What if we only did what really mattered during the holiday season?
 
I don’t know what that would look like for you, but I challenge you to give it some thought.
 

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. 
 
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