In the second week of the “Anthems” series, Pastor Nate Gagne compares the song “Happier” by Marshmello to Psalm 67. Often times, we think God’s objective is the same as Marshmello’s, “I want you to be happier”. We pray for things that are selfish but will make us happier, we curse God when things happen that make us sad. As we see in Psalm 67, God’s objective is for us to be blessed & to turn around & use those blessings to further His kingdom message. If you’ve ever worked on a group project or tried picking out a piece of furniture with your family, you’ll soon find out fulfilling 4 people’s ideals is impossible, can you imagine if God tried to make all 8 billion people happy ever day? The more we ask God to make us happy, the less we are thinking about what He’s called us to do which is reach those who don’t know Him. The more we realize that God wants to bless us so that we can show His love to others, the more our happiness will stem from what’s happening around us rather than within us.
In the premiere week of the “Anthems” series, Pastor Nate Gagne compares the popular song “If I Can’t Have You” by Shawn Mendes to a Psalm in the Bible written by King Solomon. In the song, Mendes laments about being unable to accomplish anything without thinking of the companionship he doesn’t have; ‘everything means nothing, if I can’t have you’. In the psalm, Solomon, who to this day is thought to be one of the wisest people who ever lived, relates a similar message, but isn’t of a romantic companionship, he longs for a relationship with his heavenly Father. Solomon goes on to detail the blessings that God gave him & warns against putting other gods & relationships above a relationship with God. The idea of a relationship that supersedes all else is not new. If we make that relationship with God, He’ll never let us down as Psalm 16 says.
In the final week of the “Quit Church” series, Pastor Andrew Zemianek speaks about quitting ‘church friendships’. Even from the beginning, God made a companion for the first man, Adam. God intended for us to have deep relationships with others so that we would have people to lean on in the difficult times & be those people for others in their difficult times. God wants us to fellowship, which means join together in common interest, with other believers in order to strengthen our approach to delivering His message. The more unified the church is, the more people we can reach & let know the greatest fellowship they can be a part of is between themselves & Jesus. Just as you cannot play softball or complete tasks at work without a team, we cannot truly reach people if our only relationships have a shallow root system, or worse yet if we’re in isolation altogether.
In the third week of the “Quit Church” series, Pastor Will Lapian encourages us to quit hoping people will show up. God didn’t simply hope people would come to know Him, but He met us where we are at by sending part of Himself (Jesus) to walk among us. Jesus shared trials & triumphs with ordinary men & women like us. Similarly, we cannot expect people to know the loving, saving, accepting God that we know without giving up part of ourselves (time, finances, empathy) to show them the God we know. We must invite people to church, invest in the mission of the church & their salvation, and include them in our community. In this way, we can quit expecting people to show up & start fulfilling our mission to reach ‘just one more’.
In the second week of the “Quit Church” series, Guest Speaker Mike Younus relays the message to quit simply giving our money away. God loves a cheerful giver, and desires to bless us, but as Pastor Nate spoke about in the fourth installment of “Upsidedown Kingdom”, God will use your measure to give back to you. So if you are not faithful & generous in your giving to others, neither will God be in His giving to you. Additionally, there’s no meaning behind it if you simply give just because you think you should or to get something back, God says to give sacrificially, which can be uncomfortable for us, but makes us that much more appreciative of the miracles once we experience them. Lastly, in Matthew 6, Jesus says that wherever your treasures are, that’s where your heart will be. So, if we store our treasures here on earth in the bank, that’s where our heart lives, but if we give to spreading the Good News of Jesus, our treasure is in Heaven with Him.
In the final installment of the “Upsidedown Kingdom” series, Pastor Nate Gagne illustrates Jesus’ principle of ‘give & it will be given to you’ through an example from the show Stranger Things. In the show, one of the boys nurtures a creature from the upsidedown world within the show. Because he gave food, love & shelter to this creature, when the time came, this creature whose nature it was to hate the boy actually allowed him & his friends to go free; ‘give & it will be given to you’. Jesus didn’t ask us to give money, forgiveness or mercy in order to receive anything in return. He desires for us to give sacrificially as He did when He laid down His life for us because of unconditional love. In our current culture, it’s difficult to imagine giving anything, let alone not having it be a painful experience. However, Jesus didn’t come for us because He owed us anything, He did it because He had a heart for us & wanted to see us saved from our sins. ‘Give & it will be given to you’ may seem an upsidedown statement, but the more kindness, mercy & grace you pour out, the more you will receive back.
In the third installment of the “Upsidedown Kingdom” series, Pastor Nate compares living to playing a game of softball. You can play to win or play trying not to lose. Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 16 that if you want to ‘win’, you have to lose. Jesus says if you try to save your life you will lose it whereas the person who gives up their life for Jesus will save His life. Jesus isn’t talking about here on earth but your eternal life. Things in life aren’t always going to go our way, just as things went from praise to persecution within a matter of weeks for Jesus. However, in losing His life, Jesus saved it because He was resurrected by God. In this way He modeled for us how to go through the trials of this life with grace. No matter what comes against us, the more we proclaim God’s message, we lose our earthly life but save our spiritual one.
In this special service, Daniel Gil, better known as “The Kingdom Ninja” from the popular show American Ninja Warrior shares his story including; how his parents dedicated their family to Christ, his home-schooled years & the unorthodox journey he took to ninja. The reason he made it to American Ninja Warrior was because he remained faithful to God & kept his ‘life verses’ in mind, one of which being Jeremiah 29:11 which states that the Lord has plans to prosper us & not to harm us. And even as Daniel’s fame grows, he continues to give God the glory & use his platform as a way to get God’s name out there & not his own.
In the final week of the “Prodigal God” series, Pastor Nate Gagne speaks about the celebration that happens in heaven when one person comes home or fully embraces the father where they have been keeping Him at arm’s length. It’s not for the church to judge the validity of their re-dedication or whether or not they are old enough or sincere enough to truly make that decision. Jesus accepts the young, old, those with a past, those who have previously scorned Him; Jesus accepts all. The church can become the older brother on the outside looking in because we are too self-righteous to accept our returning brothers as brothers. We can become complacent & comfortable in our church groups. However, God wants to invite more in, just as the Great Commission says; ‘go and make disciples’. God wants to open His house to everyone, whether or not we enter the party is up to us.
In the fourth week of the “Prodigal God” series, Pastor Andrew Zemianek speaks about the principle of proximity not being equivalent to relationship. The older brother was in close proximity to the father, however, he missed out on a true relationship with him due to his pride & poor attitude. Conversely, the younger brother, who decided to leave the proximity of his father realized his error & came back which created a closer relationship between them than the brother who never left the household. The older brother robbed himself of the relationship with the father & his younger brother because he couldn’t let go of his pride & judgment. The older brother’s refusal to acknowledge his brother’s return kept him on the outside when the father was inviting him in. There is room for everyone at God’s table, whichever brother you decide to be will determine your relationship with God & your ability to love one another; wayward or self-righteous, both paths take you far from God.
In the third installment of the “Prodigal God” series, Pastor Nate Gagne speaks about the younger son & his realization that he was lost and needed to turn around & go home. The younger son wasn’t necessarily worse off than the older son; pride is just as sinful to God as utilizing prostitutes. The difference is that the younger son eventually determined he was lost & made an effort to return home whereas the older son was lost all along & never realized or tried to course correct. The older brother sinned as he refused to offer his brother forgiveness & accused their father of playing favorites by throwing him a party when he returned. The lostness of the older brother was more corrupting than the lostness of the younger brother. The person with an attitude & perspective of the love of Jesus serves because they love their father, the older brothers slip into attitudes & perspectives of moralism; ‘I do therefore I am loved, others who don’t do shouldn’t be loved’. Jesus is for everyone, whether we are judging Him thinking He’d never take us back after all we’ve done or judging others because we don’t believe He should, He loves us just the same & is simply waiting for us to realize we are lost & return home.
In the second week of the “Prodigal God” series, Pastor Nate Gagne takes a new perspective on the prodigal son parable. Both sons missed out on the father’s love because they were too focused on material possessions. The younger son essentially wished his father dead, deserted his family responsibilities & exposed his family to economic hardship by leaving his place in the family economy & demanding the value of his share of the estate prior to his father’s death. The older brother disgraced his father by complaining about the injustice of his brother being welcomed back while he stayed begrudgingly to labor on with the family, not out of love but obligation so as to collect on his ‘investment’ upon his father’s death. Although the brothers dishonored their father, one in his request, one in his response, he still loved them unconditionally. Similarly, God is a good Father to those of us who have either walked away or judged those who have decided to return.
In the first week of the “Prodigal God” series, Pastor Nate speaks from Luke chapter 15 in which Jesus tells the parable of the Prodigal Son. We have a mis-perception of the term ‘prodigal’ as meaning one who returns, however, it’s actually referring to the recklessness with which the aforementioned son expended his resources before coming back to the father. We have all left God at one point or another, whether or not we return home is up to us. Sometimes, just like the Prodigal Son, we must experience what it’s like without our father to understand the depth of his kindness, love and goodness. God’s love is like that of a good father; He continually leaves a light on for us to find our way home and spares no expense welcoming us back once we make a decision to come. God freely gives His love, but we must decide whether to accept it or to walk away.
In the final week of the “Mental Hell” series, Pastor Nate Gagne speaks about our human tendency to cover up our sins rather than confess them. The more we try to cover up, through substances, lies, or other means, the more energy we expend moving farther from God’s will. The truth eventually comes out & we only serve to hurt ourselves, and potentially others, in the process. God gave His son Jesus to set us free; the deeper we entrench ourselves in our sins, the more we suffer needlessly. It’s never too late & we can never walk far enough away from God to be unable to be redeemed by Him. You have to make a conscience decision to leave your mental hell in order for God to help you escape from it. The more you confess to God in your prayers, confess to others when asking for forgiveness & confess to yourself that how you see yourself isn’t how God sees you, the closer you will get to freedom from your mental hell.
In the second installment of the “Mental Hell” series, Pastor Nate’s wife Michelle Gagne shares about her personal experiences in the mental health field as well as some of her own Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Even if things have happened to you in your lifetime, God can heal your mind & self-image where these experiences are concerned. God calls you “chosen”, “loved”, “a son or daughter”, “conqueror”, “coheir”, “beautifully & wonderfully made” and many other things. When we allow words spoken over us by others to drown out God’s voice, that’s when we lose His vision for us, and we often turn to self-medication tactics to fill the void. The more we seek out & embrace the person God says we are, the more confidence we will have & we may even be able to help someone else walk out of the lies dictating their lives as well.
In the first week of the “Mental Hell” series, Pastor Nate Gagne lays out the two causes for mental health issues; physiological & spiritual. Physiological reasons could be a diagnosed disorder or a chemical imbalance in the brain. Spiritual reasons could be an attack from tormenting spirits such as those Saul experiences in 1 Samuel 16 in the bible. There is no shame in experiencing mental health challenges due to either cause. However, the enemy will leverage spiritual forces against you, especially if you are already struggling in the physical, in order to try to get you to stop trusting God for a resolution or to keep you from asking Him to help you in the first place. There is definitely a space for conventional medicine & therapy in improving mental health. However, God knows everything about you; He has the power to bring your physiological issues into alignment as well as to chase away the tormenting spirits that plague you. It’s not God’s will that you should suffer & struggle but that you would be made whole, complete & confident in caring out your calling.
In this standalone message, Pastor Nate Gagne speaks about the events leading up to Jesus’ death and the reaction following it. Jesus came so that we could have life. He lived knowing he would be subject to death for the things we would do wrong. God sent Him in place of us to take our punishment. If we walk with Jesus, He can show us the path to life & keep us from the pitfalls that we can experience trying to walk without Him. In our darkest moments, He is the light Who keeps us from stumbling blindly in the dark. He went ahead of us & experienced the punishment for all of our missteps so that we wouldn’t have to. Continuing to stumble around blindly in the dark is a choice you can make, because Jesus will never force you to follow Him, but the path is so much more enjoyable when you decide to.
In the final week of the “Uncharted Territory” series, Pastor Nate Gagne speaks about the difference between miracles of action & miracles of desperation. Miracles of desperation are what we often think of; crying out to Jesus in our darkest moments of need. Miracles of action are often less thought of but more powerful; such as the lame walking, the blind seeing, the leper being cleansed. The more obedience, courage and faith a miracle takes, the more the action steps you modeled for someone else toward Jesus. It seems unbelievable when someone is miraculously healed, but that’s something only God can do. God calls us to miracles of action to pave the way for others as faith takes action which can only be modeled. Similarly, we only learned how to love once we saw Jesus’ love modeled for us. To step out in faith & experience the miracle of action is to help give someone else the courage to step out into their uncharted territory of exploring Who God is.
In the second week of the “Uncharted Territory” series, Pastor Andrew Zemianek speaks from the book of Acts in which Cornelius gets saved after Peter listens to the promptings of God although they are against the popular Jewish culture. The Jewish believers were skeptical of Peter’s involvement with the gentiles, non-Jewish people. When God gives us a vision to move into uncharted territory, we must come to the realization that God is moving in our lives and He makes that vision a reality. What seems impossible to us or a major culture shift is often no barrier for God. God’s will is to reach all people; what’s uncharted or uncomfortable for us are lands and peoples He created.
In the first installment of the “Uncharted Territory” series, Pastor Nate Gagne reads from the book of Acts in which the early church was disobedient to Jesus’ will; speaking only to other Jews & remaining in Jerusalem even though Jesus had called them to go out into all the world and make disciples. We as the modern church still grapple with the issue of getting comfortable in our routines, groups, buildings instead of bringing God’s message to those who don’t know Jesus and having our lives be a testimony to non-believers. We need to bring the presence of God everywhere we go as the likelihood of people getting up early on a Sunday to come into a church building is very slim. Although it’s easier to remain in our comfort zones, we must step out into uncharted territory in order to truly follow God’s call.