Monday, July 14, 2014

Worthy of the Gospel

Lately, I've been slowly studying through the book of Philippians. I chose to study this book because I have a sinful struggle: I WORRY ABOUT EVERYTHING. I worry about my worrying! I catch myself worrying about a million situations all at once and anxious about how to handle them. I analyze and over-analyze things constantly. I can turn the most beautiful situation into filthy rags with my worry. I love my Granny Edith in an unexplainable way. She taught me so many awesome things through her life, but worry and anxiety are character flaws that I also picked up from her many years ago. In our society and even in our churches, worry and anxiety have become behaviors that are acceptable. Things that we know we shouldn't do, but we continue to do them anyway because we're self-reliant and lazy our behavior is too difficult to change. Hey, it's not that bad! At least we aren't hurting other people.


Let me expose worry and anxiety for what they really are... SIN. Sin separates us from God. It's painful to realize how my worry and anxiety separate me from God. Yes, Romans 8:31-39 reassures Christians that nothing (not even our worry) can separate us from the love of God. What's at stake with worry is not HIS love for ME, but MY love for HIM. When I worry, it's as though I'm telling God I'm taking control over my life and the circumstances, therefore I must ponder them all day long and attempt to fix them on my own because His power just can't please me. It's John 3:30 reversed! I don't know if you pick up on this or not, but that's idolatry, folks! Not only am I placing myself as an idol above Christ, but my mind is thinking the thoughts of an unbeliever who has no God to provide for him. Now do worry and anxiety seem harmless and acceptable?

It's so good to love the one God who draws near to us in our despair. Today, I planned on just finishing up my study of Philippians chapter one by looking at verses 27 through 30, but God planned so much more by giving me the truth that I need. It's easy for me to realize where I fall short of hitting the mark. It's much more difficult to figure out how to regroup and move forward. Today, it's all so clear! Let me share:

"Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ."  

Please read that again. Now read it one more time. (If you're like me and sometimes skip commands like these to save time, do yourself a favor and read it!) Let those words sink into your brain. For once this is something we worriers can analyze again and again! 

For me this verse is almost like a riddle. I realize that Paul probably was not wasting time or space in his letter by writing riddles to the church at Philippi, but today in my time of need, this is how the Holy Spirit made things clear through a verse I've heard one hundred times before. 

Unless I realize that I will never be worthy of the gospel of Christ, I will never be able to live.

In another letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul says: "For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God's gift - not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them."(Ephesians 2:8-10)

There is nothing I could ever say or do to be worthy of the gospel of Christ. No amount of worry or anxiety could fix my broken state or even make things better. In fact, God had things planned before I ever existed (Ephesians 1:4-6), so clearly, He doesn't need me to worry about where things will go from here. 

If I fixate myself on the love that God has for me that caused Him to send His son to die to conquer my worry and anxiety, and I walk in that love, those thoughts will have no power over me. Is this easy? Well, it's a lot easier when I am not distracted by other things vying for my attention. It's also a lot easier when I've not been lazy and procrastinated so that I have a lot of responsibilities at once. Is it worth it? It is for me! A longer life to share the gospel I'm unworthy of, better relationships with my husband and family and friends, and a sound mind. 

So I'm not going to fixate on what others think when they read this blog, or how much time out of my day is gone because I wrote this, but instead I'll fix my mind on Jesus. 

"So don't worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For the idolators eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father know that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:31-34

 - Jesse

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

D-Now Weekend 2013

This past weekend, we had a Disciple Now weekend with our students. Overall, it was amazing!

JP and I spent so much time in preparation leading up to the weekend. When I was a student, this was just one of those things I payed $30 for and showed up at. However, as the wife of a student pastor (and a much more mature follower of Christ), a D-Now weekend is really a matter of life and death. When that many students are in one place together worshiping the one true God for an entire weekend, anything could happen! 

Besides booking Chris White to speak and the Dustin Searls Band to lead worship, one of the most important things we did was fast the week leading up the D-Now. JP and I both refrained from eating any food Monday-Thursday of that week (I also fasted from all forms of social media). Instead, when our stomachs growled (or I was looking for time to kill on facebook or twitter), we prayed that God would work in the lives of everyone who was coming. We really tried to live out John 3:30. 

Of course, the closer you get to God, the more and more Satan wants to wreck your life and ruin your plans in hopes that you'l break and curse God. The whole week long (and even before that) JP and I started noticing that so many things were falling apart. Examples.... JP sets the date of D-Now (and all of our events) about one year in advance to ensure that speakers can come and bands can play and students can start paying over time instead of all at once. Wouldn't you know that during the weekend of our D-Now there was a baseball and softball tournament planned! This was a huge disappointment at first because many of our students play these sports. So, we trusted it would all work out and began praying for rain! 
That's not all though! JP has had his wisdom teeth since seventh grade and has never had a problem with pain in them until this week! (Side note: when he traveled to China back in 2011, one of this wisdom teeth started breaking in pieces, and it did not hurt once!) In the middle of all the fasting and praying, we ended up making visits to the oral surgeon for a consultation to get those babies out! I honestly had no idea how expen$ive oral surgery was until this past week! 

With all of the chaos and difficulties we faced leading up to the weekend, we knew that something really good and different than ever before was coming, and we couldn't wait! 

When the day finally arrived and the students started showing up, you could feel the difference in the place. Students who dont regularly come to church were there! We had some of the best college students and adult leaders from all over the place (Trek-X aka Nashville, Gentry, Ozark, Ozark K-Life, Heavener, Poteau, Red Oak) to help lead our students in Bible studies and different break out sessions on everything from how to have your own Bible study, to being a next generation missionary today! Our students connected so well with them and built some long-lasting relationships. 

We had some VERY kind families who donated their homes and time for the weekend to house our crazy students! I can't even begin to thank them enough! We also had some adults who stayed all weekend long to help us run things smoothly and serve food and cook food (God bless their souls)! The list of people we are indebted to is never-ending!

When the worship services started, I have to admit I was extremely nervous! It was one of the most important parts of the whole weekend, and I had never heard the worship band before that day! They were so solid! Back that together with Chris White preaching the truth from Matthew 5:14-16, and you have an unstoppable combination! 
I also have to brag on all of our students for displaying true worship of God and paying attention to what was being taught. 

You can't have a D-Now weekend without a little fun, thus our very own Harlem Shake video that you can watch here!

But these videos are where the real fun happen! 
One of our students, Ty, was saved (watch that video here) and baptized the Sunday morning of D-Now (watch that video here)! Such an exciting time to watch God move and be a small part of it! Others also followed Christ that weekend, but Ty's story is too good not to share!

JP and I cannot wait to see what comes next for these students, and we pray that we will make disciples that stand firm in their faith!           

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dull Hearts

You know those moments when you are reading something from the Bible, and you seem to comprehend it, but then the Holy Spirit takes it to a whole new level, and all you can say is... woah! This happened to me today!
I've been studying through, Live Deeply: A Study in the Parables of Jesus, and I've really learned a lot from just the first few days. The first parable I've been studying is the Parable of the Sower Jesus told in Matthew 13:1-17... 

On that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore. Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop: some 100, 
some 60, and some 30 times what was sown. Anyone who has ears should listen!” 
Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them.  For whoever has, more will be given to him, and he will have more than enough. But whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You will listen and listen, yet never understand; and you will look and look, yet never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back—and I would cure them. “But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.

Honestly, I've known this parable since I was little bitty, and I can not count on my hands the number of times I've heard someone preach through this and explain who the sower represents, who the seed represents, who the ground represents, and on and on. BUT for the first time today the last portion of this scripture (I've italicized it and made it bold) became real to me.
Jesus spoke to the giant crowds in parables, or short stories that had a spiritual meaning. There were people in these crowds who had absolutely no idea what He was trying to say (you can see the disciples getting frustrated with Jesus in this scripture because people were obviously confused). It seems weird that Jesus would appear to conceal the truth from these unbelievers by placing it in a parable (since He came to die for the sins of everyone who would believe), but if you flip back over to Matthew 11:20-24, we learn that the more exposure you have to the Truth, the more accountable you will be before God in judgement. So, God was basically extending His grace yet again to those who didn't believe in His son by having Jesus conceal Truth in a parable they didn't understand. How gracious and beautiful is our God? He shows grace and love to the very end, wishing that all would turn to Him even as they break His heart.

Then, Isaiah brings the calloused hearts into the picture. Calloused. Gross. When I think of calloused, the synonyms that come to my mind are: insensitive, hard, no feeling, tough, dead, etc. Here is a new synonym from today... DULL. It's amazing how one little word can trigger brand new thoughts. As opposed to asking myself what makes a heart grow calloused, I asked instead what makes a heart grow DULL? One of my favorite hobbies is cooking. When it comes to cooking, one of the most essential items is a sharp knife. In fact, a well trained chef will sharpen his knives everyday. A sharp knife will chop, julienne, slice, dice, and fillet much more efficiently than a dull knife. Things go more smoothly and dinner is ready on time when your knives are sharpened. But, what makes a knife dull? Using it for things it wasn't made to cut through; cutting boards, plates, pans, kitchen towels, and fingers (just kidding!). Each knife in the kitchen is designed for a certain purpose. Serrated knives cut bread or things with a tough outer skin, paring knives clean and cut vegetables, filet knives are used to fillet fish, etc. None of these knives were designed to cut through hard plates or cutting boards, so when they attempt to, they become dull and useless. Let's skip to my newfound hobby of sewing. There are so many life-long seamstresses who I have heard mention that they hide their fabric cutting scissors from their husbands so they don't make them dull by using them to cut something they were not made to cut.
In the same way that kitchen knives and fabric scissors become dull when they are used for the wrong purpose, so do hearts. When a person takes a heart that was carefully crafted by God and uses it for any other purpose than true devotion to and worship of God, it becomes dull. Taking a heart designed by the one true God and choosing to devote it to loving and worshiping another human being makes it dull. Taking a heart designed by God and choosing to fill it with greed and selfish desires makes it dull. Taking a heart created by God and filling it with pride or works alone makes it dull. This is why Solomon wrote so carefully in Proverbs 4:23, "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life." Solomon is saying to make sure your heard is kept sharp with the Word of God, protect that heart of yours in a secret drawer where you keep those fabric scissors! Don't let it be used for anything other than what it is designed for, devote it to God! If a heard does become dull, it misses being used to it's full ability.
Sadly, a dull heart sits right in front of Jesus (the one who created it and the only one who can cure it) and all His teaching, but hears nothing, sees nothing, and understands absolutely nothing at all. I pray that we would all sharpen our hearts everyday so they would avoid becoming dull and missing anything our Savior has for us.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

We Have A BOOK!

My husband, Jonathon (JP) Sutmiller, has written his first book, "#unitedfront Turning Students into Teachers," and we are so excited!!!

How sweet is that cover?! (Designed by Lavaca's own Andy Ellis I might add!)

My precious husband's heart is devoted to the call of Jesus Christ to make disciples across the entire world. This book will educate and equip ANYONE to carry out this call.

Please consider buying a copy to go through on your own, or a few copies to go through with a group (students or adults) or as a family.
JP's goal is to sell 1,000 copies before the end of March with the hopes that we will be able to more easily get the book in the hands of people across the world (hopefully in a few other languages)!

There are quite a few ways to purchase the book:

The easiest and fastest way to purchase #unitedfront is through an ebook download from the Amazon kindle store. If you have an iphone, you can download the kindle app from the app store to read and enjoy the book for only $5.99! You can purchase the ebook by clicking here.

The next best way to support us and purchase the book is directly from the Crossbooks website for only $12.95! You can buy the paperback or hardcover edition by clicking here! AND since Crossbooks is a division of LifeWay, you should be able to walk into your nearest LifeWay store and ask to order a copy through them! (If enough books are purchased from LifeWay stores, there is a possibility it could be stocked on shelves for people who do not know about it to find!)

The book is also available to order from Amazon, but since there are more "middle men" in the process, we will not receive as much financial support when the book is purchased from there, but we would still be so happy if you purchase it!

Please pray for people to purchase this book so that people can be equipped to spread the Gospel across the world, and purchase one or one hundred if you don't mind ;) Thank you all!


Friday, October 19, 2012

Our LOVEly Introduction!

Hello, whoever you are! Thank you so much for stopping by and reading our blog. We are the Sutmiller Family, which currently consists of JP (Jonathon Paul) and Jesse (me) plus our little puppy, Cobra. We live and serve in Lavaca, Arkansas, where Jonathon is the student pastor at First Baptist Lavaca and I serve alongside him discipling students in 7th-12th grade. On June 5, 2010 we became husband and wife and since then our love for each other and Jesus Christ has only grown stronger.    

While Jonathon loves to talk (he is a preacher, what do you expect?), I am probably going to be the one making all of the posts. BUT since he is currently in the process of publishing his first book on how to disciple students, #unitedfront, you just never know when he might pop in and write something (as soon as he learns the login and password). The title of the blog basically sums up everything you will be reading about here, all the LOVE that takes place in our life. Hopefully we will be able to provide you with some of the many updates that occur day to day, and have a record of them for ourselves. You will also get to read about some of the many things God reveals to me by his love everyday. He can make the simplest truths so HUGE.     

I am so happy you stopped by! Feel free to follow us here on our blog and also on twitter: @jessesutmiller & @jpjackhammer. We LOVE you all!