christian life

In Christ: Right Where I Need To Be

By Lindsay Few

By Lindsay Few

I’ve adopted a new daily mantra. I didn’t intend to do it. It started when I realized I was repeating this little phrase any time I started to get the tightness of stress in my chest; the shallowed breathing and high blood pressure of too much to do and too little time. 

The phrase: “I’m right where I need to be.” Sitting in traffic. At the kitchen table. Choosing to work on what’s in front of me, even when I’d rather play. I’m right where I need to be. Scripture is a great place to go for words that will shape your mindset. (Perhaps 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, Ephesians 1:3, for identity reminders.)

I didn’t realize this was an identity check until I explained it out loud in community group. Then I could hear it. Being physically and mentally present in each moment is essential to living out of my identity in Christ. Being grounded in the present moment frees us from both shame of the past and anxiety of the future. My tendency is to try and get my identity - my “self” all figured out, and then go on with life. But that’s not how it works at all. Going on with life is how we live out who we already are. The daily decisions reflect where Christ has shaped and changed us -- or where He’s yet to.

Bonus discovery! If I’m running “I’m right where I need to be” through in my mind, and it turns out that that my life doesn’t sync with my mantra, then it’s easy to course correct. Getting up when I want to hit snooze (again). Put my focus to the task at hand rather than spacing out on Facebook, Zillow, Poshmark, etc.  Make the choice that reflects who I am becoming as Christ transforms me, not who I once was when I thought I had to do it all on my own.  

What about you? What identity truth are you telling yourself? How is this shaping your days? 


More Than Enough

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By Laurel Senick

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38 NIV

When I began tithing my life differed greatly from what it is now. I was a single, newly born-again believer who lived paycheck to paycheck. I had a small amount of debt from a credit card and from my first computer a huge Apple desktop. Does anyone have desktops anymore? Dave Ramsey, the finance guru, would have called that a dum-dum purchase. But at the time I didn’t know who he was.

I actually think it was helpful to have some debt when I started tithing. It took more faith to give, which built muscle. God had shown me he was faithful with whatever I gave him. My home, my sexuality, and my boyfriends were the major struggles in my eyes. Funny, finances came last. The last frontier of a life submitted to God? Maybe it’s that way for everyone, like the wild wild west of religion! But in my tithing journey there have been a few defining moments.

In those pre-tithe days, my car was one oil change from its grave; that is, if I were ever to get one. Did I mention I’m tough on cars? Finally, when it kicked the bucket a friend directed me to Engine Angels, a ministry born from a dad helping his daughter fix her car. Then this dad went on to fix his daughter’s friends’ cars and then their friends’ and so on. Engine Angels will let you buy a car that has been donated and inspected, at Blue Book value, paying whatever you can afford every month at no interest. Being a single female with a job is all you needed to qualify.

What a miracle my ‘87 Grand Prix, fondly nicknamed Big Blue, was to my worried soul. Driving on and off the beach with the foam straps and surfboard—this eye-sore was one of the ways my husband Don first noticed me. Who could have thought of that but God! I was learning God’s goodness by trusting him with my tithe.

The next defining moment was after Don and I were married and the company I worked for suddenly shut its doors. While the owners skipped town, most of us finished out the work week with our special needs clients knowing we wouldn’t be paid. Days before our church had just completed a money series, prompting Don and I to spruce up our budget - including a heftier tithe.

Despite the absence of my paycheck we trusted God and gave the full tithe that would have been included with my check. God says test him in this whole money thing you know. Not only did God provide an opportunity for me to pray for my co-workers during the crisis of losing our jobs, but by the end of the next week another company had adopted all our clients and us. Suddenly, I had my old job at a new company and this one provided health insurance. We cannot out give God. I wonder how often we miss out on this promise.

Recently I had a doozy of a faith test. I didn’t realize my automatic draft for tithing had stopped until I began working on a new budget and realized I hadn’t tithed in eight months. Uh oh. Suddenly I had to make a decision. There was no extra money sitting in my account. That money was G.O.N.E. I spent it even though it wasn’t my intention not to tithe. Surely someone should have let me know, right? Oh, I had excuses, lots of excuses. Trust me—it was a battle. “The money in my savings account is mine,” I whined.

I can just imagine God getting quite a chuckle watching me wrestle this out. I wonder if he thought, let’s see if she really trusts me. He must have whispered something like, “Don’t forget you’re mine, dear daughter. Have I ever forgotten the lilies of the field or the hairs on your head?” Because I remembered His faithfulness and I knew what to do. I knew all the times when it made little sense to give but somehow, I always had enough. More than enough.

“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” Malachi 3:10-11 NIV


Devoted: Serve Others

Left to Right: Ryan Ivey, Jason Miles, Dana Hebert & Natalyn Bachek

Left to Right: Ryan Ivey, Jason Miles, Dana Hebert & Natalyn Bachek

Google says it perfectly. Quoted from Merriam-Webster, of course: “The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Hospitality. To be hospitable.

Hopefully if you are reading this, you’ve walked through our doors at Live Oak and experienced our Hospitality Team greeters. Whether rain or shine, a team of bright, shining faces will welcome and open the door for you before our service begins. If you’ve missed us, then chances are you are late 😊 but no need to worry, we’ll catch you at the end of service! The goal of our Hospitality Team is to be the first welcoming face of Live Oak to usher you into our family. Not only will you catch us at the front doors, but behind the coffee bar, helping you find your seat or just generally showing you around the place.

Of course, we have the PERFECT example of hospitality in Jesus Christ. He is and was the end-all, be-all in hospitality and welcoming those around Him. He was friendly and generous to everyone he came across, no matter their beliefs, background or way of life. In Acts 2:42-47 we enter a scene of exuberant excitement for what is going on. When I read these verses, my heart jumps a little and my mind is set at ease. We find a large group of people who are following Jesus and are literally dropping everything they’ve ever worked for to follow this amazing Teacher.

“That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” – Acts 2:42-47 (The Message).

Can’t you feel the high energy of this group just from these few verses? They are utterly enthralled by their new-found way of life and want to shout it from the rooftops. Recently at Live Oak, we’ve been focusing on a sermon series called “Devoted,” all revolving around this passage of scripture and focusing our gaze on being like this ecstatic group of followers. We want our love for Jesus to ooze from us like it does for these people, not just on Sundays, but every day. To be so consumed with Jesus’ love that it naturally radiates from us and invites others to investigate.

With our hospitality team, this is a way we can naturally serve others and welcome them into our Live Oak family. To share our love for Jesus and people on a regular basis to all who walk through the doors. From that first hand shake to the second cup of hot coffee or an empty chair beside us in service, our mission is to connect and truly create relationships that allow us to do life together and not alone. We really do believe that God made us to do life together and these relationships not only bring us closer together, but closer to Him.

Our hospitality team usually consists of eight to ten people who serve regularly, anywhere from every week to once a month – whatever works in their stage of life. Each Sunday we meet for fifteen minutes to go over the day and pray for the service ahead. From there we go to our spots and prepare to greet people or assist them in finding their way around Live Oak. A natural, organic feeling can be felt when serving on our hospitality team, as if you are just hanging out with friends you haven’t seen all week. A lot of times our team consists of people who serve regularly and many deep relationships start from serving the same day each month with someone else, allowing comfortability and a family atmosphere to form.

We hope that each Sunday we represent a culture that supports a “friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers,” and pray that strangers will cease to exist as soon as you walk into our doors.

Pictured above are a few of our hospitality leaders that are willing to help in any way to make your time at Live Oak as natural and comfortable as possible.


Vision Weekend

By Abbey Nobles

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“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” - Romans 8:3-4

It started in December: the non-stop hustle to get everything accomplished, make everyone feel loved and special, and try to squeeze some time in for connection and purpose with my husband, Brian. In the midst of the Christmas chaos, Brian and I looked at each other and realized that in trying to be so intentional with family, friends, and our students, we had successfully neglected each other. From there, vision weekend was born. We did not set out with the immediate goal of filling out a chart and making big future moves. In the beginning, our mission was simple: plan a weekend where we could “get away,” reflect on both the great and painful things of 2018, and talk about the coming year.

Inspired by Brian Few’s vision sermon this year and reading through a Christmas-New Year’s devotional, we were able to come up with a manageable goal setting and reflective chart that we both could be excited about. (Link to that chart is included here, it is slightly different than the one we passed out at Church) We set our tentative plan of where we would go out to eat, what we would do for fun, when we would talk, etc. and truly let the Spirit inspire what we would talk about. Because we both have a constant myriad of ideas teeming in our brains, and indecision is not too foreign for both of us, we sat down and planned out a schedule so there would be no questions of “where are we going out to eat?” or “what should we do now?” (tentative, but something to fall back on). The week prior we were in prayer and sought prayer from close friends for this weekend. We had some big items to discuss and none of our conversations were stressful or caused any anxiety. We were able to easily knock out about 75% of the chart.

“Do not quench the Holy Spirit.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Advice I would give to anyone wanting to try this weekend are as follows: Be in prayer and ask for prayer from your close community, do not get bummed out if you do not reach all of the discussion goals/topics, trust in the ability to be organic and genuinely inspired; let this guide your conversation. I think we often forget that when we are plugged into the Lord, the Spirit divinely inspires us. We musn’t flee from that and we must be aware of that. Allow time for the Lord to connect you to himself, to inspire and move you deeply. Brian and I started the first morning of our weekend not talking about vision at all, just coexisting in our house, drenched and warmed by the sunrays, drinking coffee on the couch, reading and journaling leisurely and independently, playing music together, and making breakfast. This normality and relaxation was okay because it created the connective space and calm for us to be productive in the following hours.

“Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace… If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” - Romans 8:6, 11

Let's be a Church that doesn’t make excuses; that is divinely inspired by the Spirit and notices it; that encourages one another to be reflective and set goals for our future. No weekend will be the right weekend, you will never get the most perfect babysitting situation, taking off work is never going to be easy, you will not have the right amount of money saved, or ever enough time. We must stop listening to the lies the Devil uses to replace our ability to commit with excuses. God wants to show you all that he is doing in your life. Let us be a Church body that allows time, space, and energy to be divinely inspired and led by the Spirit. Let us hold each other accountable to this call and let us celebrate with one another when we faithfully walk into a time of seeking vision for our lives.