Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Our Opprotunity & Christ’s Victory

This week I had the opportunity to preach at our North Campus. We continued our series through the book of 1 Peter. We've been in this series for the last couple months. This weekend I preached on 1 Peter 3:13-22.

You can watch the entire sermon here and see what your opportunity is!

03/26/2017 - Neal Benson | Our Opprotunity & Christ's Victory from Central Peninsula Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sprinkles and Sabbath

On Saturday we try to Sabbath around our house. For me, this typically look like not being on my computer, not checking email and allowing work calls/text messages to wait a day. For Charity it usually means no doing dishes, not cooking and having a break from her normal routine.

Someone might wonder, “Why do you take a break from these things?” or “What is a Sabbath?” We take a break from these things to allow our family to rest and refresh together. We do it in obedience to a command God gave His people thousands of years ago:
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11
Some Saturday’s we’re successful at this and other Saturday’s we’re, well…not so much. This Saturday was one of those days where things were going great (kinda). I took the kids to donuts in the morning and then Charity and I went to a morning wedding. While we were at the wedding the kids made cupcakes with our neighbor who was babysitting them. After lunch we took a bike ride to the park and came home to let the kids frost the cupcakes.

In all honesty, I’m not sure how it happened but Isaiah got the sprinkles in his hand. He decided to see how many sprinkles it would take the cover the floor. It was a minor disappointment but thanks to the trusty vacuum I was able to clean it up. When I look back to the Sabbath I think that we had a good day. It was nice spending time with the kids and a little sprinkles on the floor isn’t going to ruin our day of rest.

Next time you’re trying to rest and something distracts you, don’t allow it to derail you. There is a difference between being derailed and being distracted. The sprinkles were a distraction and we recovered. Yesterday was a great day of rest for me! I hope you can enjoy that for yourself.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sophie's First Diamond

This weekend Sophie got her first diamond. You might be thinking: "You gave your 8 year old daughter a diamond?" It wasn't set in a ring. It wasn't affixed to a post that would sit in her ear. Her first diamond wasn't white.

Sophie's first diamond was black. It was found at Northstar after taking the chair to the top. One of the first things she said she wanted to do that day was to take the chair to top and ride a Black Diamond. She wanted to ride a black diamond and she did awesome!

As I think about Sophie and riding her first black diamond with her I have four thoughts that come to mind:

This didn't happen overnight 

Sophie isn’t a professional snowboarder. She started riding last season. I’ve been working with her on balance and agility for years hoping that she would love snowboarding as much as me! She used to take gymnastics and that really helps with her balance. It took us many rides on the bunny chair, lots of Skittles and other motivation tools to get here.

It took lots of work 

Sophie woke up early in the morning for this last trip. She’s spent many hours in the back of the car to get to Tahoe. She’s gone on some fun days of riding with me. We’ve had days where the weather is so nice that you can ride in a long-sleeve shirt! She’s also gone riding on Days were it’s been 5 degrees when we left the house. She’s braved the cold and rode in storms that will make grown men leave the hill. She’s fallen her fair share of times and put in the work to make it happen.

It took courage 

I’ve talked with a few people about her accomplishment and they’ve said: “She did what?” Or someone said: “I don’t have the guts to do that.” It didn’t dawn on me at first but her first black diamond took a bunch of courage. I can’t image how big that hill looks to her. She is half the size of almost everyone else on the hill. She had the courage her point her board in that direction when she could have chosen a different one.

It was a little scary 

When we stood on the top of the hill I could see it in her face. She looked over the side and it was scary. Her eyes grew wide. I’m sure her heart rate increased. It’s a gnarly feeling when you can see the top but you can’t see the hill you’re going to slide down; I’ve been there. But she conquered her fears. She didn’t let fear win that day.

As I think of four thoughts I can’t help but think about how many so many people never get the thrill of riding a black diamond. I started thinking about how Sophie riding a black diamond can be used to describe the Christian life that many people miss out on.

Some people think that Spiritual Growth happens over night and it doesn’t. It takes many days of sitting with God. There are times when it feels like God is no where to be found and times when it feels like God is sitting right next to you. Growing as a Christ follower takes time and an investment. It calls someone to step out in faith, to leave what they know to be comfortable and follow Jesus. Sometimes this call brings a person to places they’ve never been or locations they are afraid of.

Being a Christ follower takes courage. It requires leaving the comforts you once knew and embracing the truth of Christ. Some people are ridiculed, disowned or rejected by those they love. But as I look at those who are truly following Christ they know the benefits. They are experiencing the thrill of riding a black diamond!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

The Dead Rat

As humans we’re great at justifying and diminishing our sin. We pretend it’s not there or ignore it, hoping it will go away. It’s like taking Advil for a broken leg. Let me tell you how nasty our sin is. Two summers ago I woke up in the middle of the night and smelled this horrible smell. I knew it was the smell of death, because I lost two hamsters as a kid, but I was so tired I went back to bed. The next morning was a Sunday, so I went off to church early. My wife texted me around 8 am and said this, “I think there’s something dead under our house.” I knew she was right, but I just told her to open the windows and air the house out.

After church I got home and the house smelt fine. But before we went to bed we shut the windows and the smell of death returned. I knew what I had to do. I had to crawl under the house and see what was there. So I geared up: I put on old dirty pants, an old sweatshirt and my kid’s headlamp. I grabbed a hoe from the garage, incase I had to fight off any wild critters, and went under the house. It was a long crawl but as I neared the opposite side of the house, right under my bed, I saw this little nest in the corner. Now I was ready for the battle!

I started poking at it with the hoe. I actually was wishing I had something better because I was waiting for something to jump out and eat me. All my irrational fears expressed themselves under the house that night. Nothing came out, so I pulled down the nest down and began opening it to see if that was really the problem. There it was, a big old nasty dead rat! The smell was horrible. I had a bag with me and cleaned up the mess and made my way out.

Because I love my wife and value a fresh smelling home, I crawled under the house to clean up the mess. This dead rat is what your hidden sin is like. You’ve hidden sin in your life, closed the windows so no one can see it, and are pretending it will disappear. There are too many times in your life you haven’t dealt with the sin immediately. If you have hidden sin in your life, I implore you to fight the sin. Gear up, do the hard work, and clean the sin out of your life so you can live the the righteous life God is calling you to.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Young Adults Teaching Series- Love Story

Each year I enjoy teaching a series, for young people, that focuses on love in one way or another. When I was a High School Pastor we would alternate years from teaching about love in general to teaching about love in relationships. It seems to always be a hit when you teach about sex in the church; people are curious and want to know what you have to say and what the Bible has to say.

Let me tell about the teaching series we just completed in our Young Adults Ministry. Here is the series overview and a quick overview of the series that I shared with all the people who would be teaching:

Love Story is a five-week teaching series designed to help Young Adults understand what God says about: love, sex, dating and relationships. The series is designed to build on itself to help people grow in their understanding of God’s truth. Some people may have never heard these passages preached. Some people know these passages well. Some people are living contrary what God’s Word instructs. Some people have a legalistic view of love based on an experience earlier in life. The truth of God is radically different than what our world says about these topics. Our main objective is to the teach the Word of God with grace and love in this series. We have an opportunity to help people grow in their walk with Christ through these five weeks.

Here is a broad overview of the series:

Week 1 (February 2, 2017)
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 13:1-4

Week 2  (February 9, 2017)
Main Text: Ephesians 5:21-33

Week 3  (February 16, 2017)
Main Text: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Week 4  (February 23, 2017)
Main Text: John 8

Week 5  (March 2, 2017)
Main Text: Matthew 22:37-39

The sermons are up on our new app and will be on the website soon!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Living a Godly Life

Our church is currently in a almost five month series where we're going through the New Testament letter of 1 Peter. This study has been a great study for me and for our church.

If you have ever felt like a foreigner anywhere you’re going to be able to relate to the people Peter is writing to. Peter writes this letter to a group of believers in Asia Minor who are being persecuted for their faith. He is going to give them instructions about being Christ followers in a foreign land. What he wrote almost 2000 years ago is the encouragement many of us need today as we live as foreigners here in the world — maybe not a foreigner in citizenship, but a foreigner because your citizenship is in heaven.

This was a fun sermon to preach on 1 Peter 2:11-12 especially after returning from Israel. The feeling of being a foreigner was fresh in my mind. Peter gives two encouragements to the people in Asia Minor.

Peter encourages Christ followers to live in right relationships within their society. The first part is expressed in the negative when he instructs them to abstain from sinful desires. The second part is expressed in the positive when he tells the believers to live good lives.

Listen to the entire sermon here to get the full message!

02/19/2017 - Neal Benson | Living a Godly Life from Central Peninsula Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Lent- What I'm giving up

Many people know that today is the first day of Lent. Now in all honesty, I'm not much of a Lent person. It probably comes from my lack of understanding of the season of Lent. I did a quick Google search and learned that Lent falls in the Christian calendar, that is good because I always thought it was more of a Catholic tradition.

There are a few things I know (or I think I know):
  • Lent lasts for 40 days
  • Fat Tuesday is the day before
  • Lent is a time to abstain from something so you can focus on God
  • Lent begins on Ash Wednesday
  • It ends right before Easter
Now I've never been to an Ash Wednesday service and this morning I had a friend ask me if I'm leading the Ash Wednesday service. Our church doesn't have an Ash Wednesday service but I'd like to attend one in the future.

This year I'm giving something up for Lent. My goal is to be on my phone less. This will come in the form of not going to the folder on my phone titled "Games." The reason for this comes from I find that I can easily check out by sneaking to my phone and playing a quick game. That turns into 5-20 mins on my phone playing games. I'm really hoping to be more present in this time and connect more with God instead of being on my phone as much. 

One year for Lent I gave up social media and I was thinking about doing that again but wanted a new challenge. I was joking with my wife this morning about what I'm giving up and said: "Well I guess I'll be watching more on YouTube." I really hope that it doesn't end up that way. It will be an intentional process for me to avoid what can be such a quick habit.

I look at this period of 40 days to similar to a fast. I've never fasted from food for 40 (but I would like to). I have fasted from food for 3 days before and it was tough. It is a mental disciple. When I think about fasting its a time to abstain from something to focus more fully on God. It's a time to give up something, not to just give it up, but to use that time to connect with God. That is my hope during this season of Lent.

Are you giving anything up?