From Our Founder

He Is Our Need Shrinker

Not only is God our Father, but He is “Our Father who is in heaven.” This seems so obvious. Of course, He is in heaven! Why would Jesus have us pray this way? Perhaps because He wants to remind us that even as heaven is so much bigger than earth, so is The Father so much bigger than anything on earth! God is the need-shrinker.

There is a verse in the Psalm 73 which says, “Whom have I in heaven but you and on earth there is none beside you.”

The Psalmist came to know that since God is the greatest in heaven, how much more is He all-consuming on earth: there is none beside you! To say that God is in heaven is to say that He is so all-consuming that we need not fear any power on earth… We need not fear the future, we need not fear peoples’ opinions, we need not fear that other people will control us, we need not fear failure… Suddenly we realize that God is very big!

When we say, “God you are in heaven“, we are saying, “God you are bigger than any possible thing on earth! What should I be afraid of?” 

To say that God is in heaven is to welcome the freedom to truly live in the present. I don’t think we know just how marvelous it is to live in the moment. To acknowledge that God is in heaven is to acknowledge that there is always something greater than your company, your job, your future, or even your purpose.

When we can say with conviction, “Whom have I in heaven but you” it will be because we have already been convinced that “on earth there is none beside you.”

Since He is the God of heaven, He is the God over your every need! Nothing is outside the scope of His love, wisdom, and power!

How does God shrink your needs?

~Pastor Steve Fry; Founder & President of Messenger Fellowship

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From Our Founder

He Is Our Father

Jesus teaches us to talk to God as “Our Father.” Maybe that’s not just a description of God… maybe that’s His Name!

Sometimes we have thought that God’s name was revealed to Moses. “I AM”, said God to Moses when he asked God his name.

We forget that Moses – though he was a great prophet – was still a fallen man and walked in the tradition of his forefathers to whom God revealed himself in post-sin names.

Until Jesus came, we actually have no record of the pre-sin name of God.  We have no record of what Adam called God, or what God wanted Adam to call him. The names by which God is named are given to us in a fallen world.

Only the perfect man, Christ Jesus, would have known God’s name before sin came into the world. And what name does He use to refer to God? Father.

Jesus tells his disciples t to address God not as “God Most High”, “I AM”, or “Lord God”, though God is all of these names. He tells them every time they pray to address God as… Father. And as our Father, He is committed to us no matter what!

This tells me God’s desire that we see him first and foremost as our father runs deep! Every time we are anxious, every time we hurt, every time we’re confused, every time we’re embarrassed by our own mistakes, God is The Father that is committed to us!

That’s why knowing Him first as ‘Father’ is core to our ongoing healing… All the other names of God are wonderful. But the name of ‘Father’ says “I am committed to you no matter what!”

We never have to fear that God will intimidate us. Because he’s a Good Father, He will always reveal His love even at those times He calls us to tough places of obedience, or times when He shows us where we’re missing the mark.

He’s a Good, Good Father… it’s who He is!

How does God reveal Himself to you as a Good Father? 

~Pastor Steve Fry; Founder & President of Messenger Fellowship

From Our Founder

Hi Is Our Refuge

When God says that he is our refuge, I think he is saying that he recognizes our need to escape. Having a refuge in ancient times was a huge deal. We forget just how often nations were at war with one another, and how often threat seemed to loom just around the corner. So, escaping to safety was a real priority!

We often think of “escaping” as being cowardly. That people who “escape” to video games or the movies are less spiritual. But, when God calls Himself our refuge again and again, he is acknowledging our need to escape. He is acknowledging just how intense the warfare is. He is acknowledging just how difficult it is to live in such a hostile environment today. He understands your need to escape the pressures and the challenges of this life.

And he offers himself as a refuge… He is saying “It’s okay to escape to me.” So often we don’t run to God because we have built up such an image of God as the One who is going to give us an assignment, the One who is going to tell us what we have to do next, the One who is our boss… the One who is our Lord.

But when God says, “I am Lord”, He is offering us His protection not just demanding our allegiance!  He is calling us to Himself as our hide-away!

We can escape to him. If he knows how important ‘escape’ is, then will He not show himself to us as our nourisher and protector, not just Lord and director? If he knows just how important escaping to him is, do you think he will abuse his authority by turning your ‘escape times’ into harsh correction times? Or remind us just how often we don’t live up to his expectations?

Surely if he wants us to escape to him, will he not reveal himself as our ultimate enjoyment and pleasure? And will we not find comfort in His everlasting arms? Indeed, He is our refuge… He is the Great Escape!

How do you escape to God?

~Pastor Steve Fry; Founder & President of Messenger Fellowship

From Our Founder, Leadership

The God Who Looms Larger Than Our Present Limitations

There isn’t a spiritual leader (and that’s all in one way or another) that hasn’t felt at times the weariness of just treading water. We can be pastors who try everything to help our church grow, or culture-leaders (those in the ‘marketplace’) who feel stuck in a job.

How does God fill our minds with Himself?  

Consider what He did for Israel, when they were enslaved in Egypt for four centuries?  Can you imagine being one of those generations right in the middle of that long era, who had to live under the lash from the time they were born to the moment they died? How purposeless! Yet, that was God’s plan. There would be a right time for them as a nation to be delivered… but not for 400 years. Many were going to live and die stuck in a repetitive, monotonous, hard-slog of an existence!

Yet, we know that when it was God’s time for their freedom, they were still intact as a people… which tells me something: God must have shown Himself to them in such a way that they maintained their sense of destiny even when they experienced absolutely NO forward progress. Perhaps they were so aware of God’s Big Picture, they found contentment being a small part in it… Peace in the simple faith of expectation, rather than demanding relief from their immediate circumstance.

When you and I feel stuck, and all we try to do seems to get us nowhere, we can begin to praise God for being a God who is able to make us feel purposeful even when it feels like we’re going nowhere! He is the God who frees the heart stuck in unchanging circumstances. 

How does God make you feel purposeful even when you are stuck in unchanging circumstances?

~Pastor Steve Fry; Founder & President of Messenger Fellowship

From Our Founder, Leadership

The God Who Turns Disappointment Into Authority and Intimacy

Being in leadership means accepting the occupational hazard of being disappointed. Disappointed with outcomes, disappointed with people, and even disappointed with ourselves. Too much disappointment, and it can lead to overwhelming hopelessness. How do we surf the waves of disappointment?

First, disappointment can further our God-given purpose. Paul was greatly disappointed with some people when they did not show up to support him at his trial (2 Timothy 4:16-17). He felt deserted. But then Paul said that the Lord stood by him and strengthened him, by ensuring him that his message would get out. Sometimes, we think that when people or circumstances let us down that our purpose is shut down. No way! God’s work through you is not limited by other peoples’ choices!  Every disappointment we experience has the potential of increasing the spiritual weight of our message. God makes our words seem to ‘count more’ with others.

Second, disappointment can deepen our intimacy with God. In Romans 4:18, we read that Abraham “in hope, believed against hope.” Spectacular. It’s like he is taking a stand against his own ability to hope. When we’re disappointed we often try to overcome it ourselves.  We think that to be good leaders we have to ‘buck up’ and get over it; that disappointment is bush league sorrow.

We tell others to grieve loss in a healthy way. Do we as leaders allow ourselves to grieve the loss we feel when we’re disappointed?

Abraham was honest about his disappointments (see Genesis 15); and because he was, he opened himself to a greater intimacy with God. We ‘grieve’ our disappointments by being honest about them to God: “Lord, it hurts.” And that opens our heart to The Lord. Like breaking a shell to get the nut, being honest with God cracks our heart open to receive intimate encouragement from God.

Human failures – even our own – will not keep God from accomplishing his ultimate purpose through us. Even Abraham’s mistake of trying to get a son his way did not keep God from fulfilling his personal destiny.

Often, the emotional healing we seek comes in the intimacy with God we cultivate when we’re disappointed. God has not called us to aggressive faith; He has called us to aggressive intimacy.

How do you cultivate intimacy with God when you are disappointed?

~Pastor Steve Fry; Founder & President of Messenger Fellowship

 

From Our Founder, Leadership

God’s Simple Way Of Measuring Our Faithfulness

As leaders, we often put more pressure on ourselves than God does. We look around and see others who are successful, and then compare ourselves. And mostly, we come up short and feel second-rate. Then we tell ourselves, ‘Just be faithful!’

Yet, how does God measure our faithfulness? In Matthew 24 Jesus describes to his disciples what the end of the age will look like. Obviously sobering stuff.  At the end of this long talk, Jesus asks, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes!” (vv45-46)

What is startling about this question, is that the only responsibility that seemed important to The Master was feeding the household. We could list dozens of other responsibilities that a head-servant would carry, but this is the only one mentioned.

Yet, how does God measure our faithfulness? By feeding the household God puts us over. Pastors: You are faithful as you simply feed the gift of the household (the local church or mission base) you’ve been given, through teaching The Word to your flock.

Culture-shapers (those in the ‘marketplace’): The word ‘household’ can be translated ‘job or circle of influence’ just as much as the word ‘family.’ Your job is your household. You are faithful as you simply communicate God’s life-giving words to your workmates, whether you share directly or drop little seed-thoughts along the way.

I like what Frederick Bruner says in his commentary on Matthew: “When Jesus commissioned Peter, he didn’t say ‘Go and win The Mediterranean World’; he said, ‘Feed my sheep.’ Knowing that as he fed sheep, The Mediterranean World would be won!

When you feel pressured to overwork yourself, God has the power to fill your mind with Himself as The God-who-delights-in-your faithfulness to communicate His word.

Again, Bruner: “the way to watch for the coming of the Lord is to be faithful in feeding the Lord gift of the household. Surprisingly, the focus and looking for the return is not the sky; it is a table.”

How are you feeding your “household”?

~Pastor Steve Fry; Founder & President of Messenger Fellowship

From Our Founder, Leadership

The God Who Fills Our Minds With His Power To Preserve

God will always make Himself large in our eyes, if we ask Him.

We as leaders fight discouragement from time to time, and can feel numbed by the weight we carry. And sometimes we wonder if what we’re doing is of any great consequence in the grand scheme of things.

Towards the end of his life, The Apostle Paul wondered about this too. Watching the ups and downs of the churches he had planted, he must have been unsure about his legacy, whether what he had done would last.

We can feel that, too: Has what I have done really counted?

Paul came to a place of confident certainty: “I know in Whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he will keep that which I have committed to Him…” (2 Timothy 1:12).  Paul had such a vision of the majesty and power of God, that he became joyously convinced that God would preserve the work that he committed to Him.

This tells me something: God is not only powerful enough to make our life’s work count, but is also able to so fill our imaginations with his ability and faithfulness that we truly can rest and place all of our works into His hands.

The focus is not so much on our ability to develop such confidence, but on God’s love and power to make Himself large in our eyes. Specifically, to show us that He is powerful enough to preserve all of the work he has done through us!

I look at Paul’s response of trusting God to keep what he has committed, and I can be daunted by his example. But when I turn my attention toward God, and see this verse as a picture of God’s ability to convince a leader that He will keep what he or she has committed to Him, then I get excited about how God is going to enlarge my view of Him and help me keep Him big in my eyes!

How are you keeping God big in your eyes?

~Pastor Steve Fry; Founder & President of Messenger Fellowship