When All Hope Is Gone…

Sometimes the answers to difficult questions are no where to be found.  Sometimes there are disappointments that don’t seem fair.  There will be sicknesses that will have no explanation or cure.  There is abandonment that you don’t deserve.  There is betrayal that hurts at the deepest level.  Sometimes we depend on people and find our identity in titles and things.  All this can rob us of our confidence.  But a mature Christ follower will have faith, will persevere and will grow in confidence in the word of God and cling to the will of God.

despair 7-2-15

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”  Hebrews 10:35-36

When all the answers seem illusive and the future doesn’t seem hopeful, Jesus shows us how to pray.  Essentially, how to depend on Jesus. Prayer isn’t sexy or very flashy, but when it all comes down to it, it is what works.  A bad attitude, discontentedness, bitterness and complaining and venting will not help, But Jesus teaches us to depend on Him through submitting to His sovereignty.  This is one of the deepest theological truths we can ever grasp.  But we won’t understand it in a day, it will take a lifetime.

How Jesus Taught Us To Pray… (Matthew 6:9-12)

#1 Revere His Place – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”  Stop for a moment.  I know it hurts, but when you question God you become a form of your own God. Here is the miracle: God will allow you to question Him.  Humble yourself, honor Him, put God in His proper place.  Be careful in your words to him.  Worship him with honor and passion.  Who was sent to die for you?  Who forgave you?  Who created the ends of the Earth and spread out the expanse of the seas?  Who gave you life?  Who in Trinitarian glory has designed earth and heaven?

#2 Pray His Plan  – “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  To spend a lifetime trying to fathom this one statement of Jesus is a worthy cause and life well spent.  His Divine timing and kingdom is to be prayed down from heaven.  It isn’t our preference or desire that is to be supreme.  We are to pray with eternity in mind.  Pray both for the sliver of time, the suffering in the now, and the blissful glory of heaven to come.  In heaven we will worship Him in full glory, serve him unrestrained with new bodies, and fellowship with the Saints in heaven who have been predestined and called of God, a perfect and fully redeemed bride of Christ realized with absolute grace and love.  

#3 Depend on His Provision  “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Jesus doesn’t say pray for the excess, but just enough for today.   The writer of the Proverbs says it like this… “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Prov. 30:8-9)  His provision is not just physical but total.  It is an emotional provision of security, a literal provision of food, an eternal provision of health and a new body.  Self dependance creates idolatry and poverty, while interdependence creates understanding and wealth.  You were meant to be the church and provide for the needs of others.  Your excess is to be shared with the poor and needy.

#4 Desire His Providence  “…and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.'”  His providence for you is that by faith you have been forgiven.  You are a child of God.  You are adopted.  You are chosen and predestined before your birth.  You are more than a conqueror.  He has equipped you with spiritual gifts.  He has forgiven your sin, forgotten your weakness and He forges ahead for your advantage.  He has given you grace so grace and forgiveness may be extended.  This is His will for you.  Forgive the debt, for he has buried the bitterness.  Pray down His providence, submit to His will.  The answers may not come now, but His will has been and will be done.

Be hopeful in confidence, it is a privilege to walk this life with you together as the church.


This week at 217church week 4 of our Defining Moments series, JaelWhen Insecurity Meets Confidence   Judges 4:12-24.



Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

A Word With Mom

A guest blog by Bonnie Gay

As one mom to another can I just share with you something I’ve experienced? No, I’m not Josh, but I’m happy to be guest-blogging for him this week. Hey, as moms we juggle a lot of stuff. I want you to know that your value and your identify aren’t in that stuff – the mom stuff. Your value and the reality of who you are can only be found in Jesus.


The enemy will attempt use your relationship with your child to keep you from your true identity. He does this through distraction. Here’s how:

  1. He’ll tell you that you’re not a good mom: So you’ll dive in and be the best mom ever. After all, a good mom will always defer her time and energy to care for the needs of her child over her own needs. But if mom isn’t discerning the child’s need vs. want, it can lead to the erosion of many healthy boundaries – for the child and for mom. Weigh the request. Maybe one book before bed is just enough. Then go read a good book yourself – you know, the one God wrote just for you.
  1. He’ll tell you what your child needs: Yes, Super Mom – you must have a well-maintained home and arrange enough well-planned social interaction and experiences to produce a well-rounded child who has three perfectly well-balanced meals each day. Well mom, when was the last time you sat down for coffee – with Jesus? What your child needs is a mom who has a healthy relationship with God. Make sure your well-timed schedule includes a one-on-one session with Jesus.
  1. He’ll tell you that you’re the only one for the job:You need to be the one who changes every diaper, wipes every booger, runs every errand, attends every game, every dance, every field trip, every doctor appointment, cleans up every mess, checks every homework problem, fixes every social dilemma, and we all know this list is endless so I’ll stop there. We can fix this distraction with 3 words. Let someone else. (GASP!) Step away. Accept help from your husband, your mom, a friend, a neighbor. Look to an older child to help with homework or social advice (and redirect if necessary, of course). But get some breathing room for yourself. Step away so you can be with Jesus and hear his voice.

You really are a good mom, a Super Mom, and the best one for the job. That’s all true. But don’t let Satan use all that stuff to distract you from Jesus.

John 4:13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Worship with us this week! – May 10 – Mother’s Day Celebration – Defining Moments

Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here.

A Thank You From Pastor Boyd Hannold

Dear 217church,

What an exciting privilege it was to worship and share the message with you this past Sunday as Pastor Josh agreed to “swap pulpits” with me. While the PAC Worship Team and I were spending the morning with you, Pastor Josh brought a message and your 217 Worship Team to PAC. It was a whirlwind tour as I spoke first at the Hamilton campus, zipped over to the East Windsor campus, and then rushed back for the second Hamilton service. I have a new respect for Pastor Josh’s busy Sunday morning preaching schedule, and I want to thank him for getting our “I Am Responsible” prayer theme for the month of March off to a great start. (If you’d like to watch the message Pastor Josh shared at PAC, it’s available here.) I’d also like to thank him for trusting me to continue 217’s theme of “Blueprint… Rebuild Your Life.” It was a pleasure and an honor to do that.

Sunday was my first look at 217’s new campus in East Windsor. I had goosebumps as I walked into the school and saw so many people who wouldn’t have had the opportunity to worship or meet Jesus without your church’s passion and dedication to make that vision a reality. And although I recognized faces at your Hamilton campus, I was thrilled to see so many I didn’t know at those two services. I hope to continue to make these “swaps” part of our yearly schedule. It’s a great reminder of this journey we’re on together to see lives transformed by Jesus. People are coming to Christ, and together, along with Element Church, I know we can make a huge impact on Central Jersey.

Blessings on 217church!

Boyd Hannold

Boyd H

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2

217church is a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ planted in 2010 through Princeton Alliance Church by Josh Conn the lead pastor.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 9:30 & 11am and Grace Rogers School in East Windsor, NJ at 10:15.  Our new East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.

You Won’t Believe What I Just Saw!

I was absolutely in awe watching everything that happened over this Thanksgiving season through 217church.  And it even happened yesterday. I was surprised, excited, but most of all proud of a young church that is learning to get out there and Live Differently through serving relentlessly.  Just yesterday we put this Facebook post on our page:  “If anyone in the 217church family needs food for Thanksgiving, please send us a message by noon today.”   Then in just one hour, this happened…

“A young single mom with three children came in to pick up one of the baskets.  She was so happy to receive a basket, they were thrilled that it would cover not only their Thanksgiving meal, but several more meals thereafter.  We didn’t even know them, but they will be eating because of the gifts you provided!”

surprised 11-26

“And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”  Matthew 10:42

7 Things I Saw On Sunday…

1. Compassion  –  We did 2 simultaneous events in two communities!  I wish you could have seen the look on the face of a young boy at McKnight School in East Windsor when we placed a coat on him.  He showed up to the bitter cold event in a sweat shirt and didn’t even own a coat.  We were able to give him a coat and share the love of Jesus.  We told people there is a church in the community launching on January 12 that is all about helping them “rebuild their lives.”  Couldn’t believe it!

2. Cooperation  –  We delivered well over 200 baskets full of food to families with names!  We worked with Johnson & Johnson (yes, they are that BIG drug company 🙂 ), United Way and Bromley Community Center in Hamilton.  We ensured every family, every name on the list received a $25 gift card for a turkey, as a well as a full basket of food.  You can still Give A $25 gift through our Next Generation Fund Here.  In one day alone, you helped feed over 1,000 peopleCouldn’t believe it!

3. Celebration –  When 400 people showed up to the theater and worshiped together celebrating God’s provision for us, It blew me away.  It was so cold on Sunday our 217truck wouldn’t start, but still over 50 people showed up early at the theater to set up two inspiring worship services at the AMC 24.  Our very own Naml Lewis preached about living in the favor of God.  It was Incredible!  Couldn’t believe it!

4. DiligenceDid I forget to mention it was freezing cold Sunday?  But yet over 100 of the 217church family came out to pass out food in the freezing cold!  I love it.  Couldn’t believe it!

5. Empowerment – Our youth totally planned the Hamilton event and our East Windsor Launch team established a presence in the Twin Rivers community.  Couldn’t believe it!

girls serving

 Our youth showed up BIG and orchestrated the event!

6. Action – When we dreamed of a church in the Hamilton community, we wanted to renew the community through serving relentlessly.  This meant we would have to be a “Get it done church!” Your reputation is out there!  People know that Jesus is here and is about restoring their life.  Couldn’t believe it!

7. Love – When we took a pile of coats over to a van with a family of seven kids with NO COATS.  It was… indescribable.  Couldn’t believe it!

Thanksgiving is HERE!  I’m proud of you!  Let’s celebrate God’s provision and invite someone along with us.



217church is a multi-site church in Mercer County NJ with small groups for families in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater.  Our new East Windsor Campus is meeting Sunday December 8th 10:15 am at Ethel McKnight School and launches weekly services January 12, 2014.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services in Hamilton at 9:30 or 11 am! Visit www.217church.com.  If you want to be in on the ground floor of a new exciting church planting environment, contact our East Windsor Campus Pastor Dan Gay at Dan@217church.com.




Q & A Sunday: Words

Q.  I often find myself in situations where people tell me that my words or my very presence is comforting for them. But when I begin to comfort them with words from Scripture…they completely shutdown. questionsI have often found myself drained in such situations. Should I remain in such friendships/situations? 

A. This is a difficult situation to be in. Life is messy, and when we reach out to people, it often invites us into their struggles. Even though you might feel drained, you need to stick with it and encourage people in whatever way they’ll listen! Galatians 6:9 tells us, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” What I love about your question is that it speaks honestly about the difficulties of trying to minister to people. When a person’s response to our encouragement changes, maybe we need to change how we approach people! My favorite example in the Bible of ministering to a person, is Jesus’ example of ministering to Judas Iscariot. Jesus knew since He first asked Judas’ to follow Him, that he would eventually betray Him… so why would Jesus ask Judas to follow Him at all?! Simply put, it was because He loved him. Even if the people around us never choose to follow Jesus, we still need to model God’s love and pursue them, because we love them!- Pastor Justin; justin@217church.com


Q.  Is it ok to have a “refreshment holiday”. What I mean by this is time to yourself for spiritual refreshment? There are times I feel that I’m so tapped out.

A. Proverbs 6:6 says “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.”   Who is this verse addressing?  Lazy people?  Consider how hard the ant works. Do ants sleep? Yes. Ants have a regular rhythm of work and rest. We should have a regular rhythm of work and rest. So how d o we rest spiritually ? G ive up all spiritual things like prayer and reading God’s word?  No.  Spiritual refreshment should be a time when we take out all our other distractions and focus primarily on the care of our own soul. Yes it is OK to have a “refreshment holiday” where you can be alone with God and enjoy His presence, His lavish love for you for a prolonged period of time. But to keep us from bottoming out between our refreshment holidays, we should maintain a regular rhythm of time with Him. Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly, and Abandon Annually – all for the purpose of seeking God’s renewal in our lives. – Pastor Bonnie; bgay@princetonalliance.org


Q. James 4 says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17…please explain this.

A. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer 29:11-13 “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths”.  Proverbs 3:6 says God desires a relationship with us and wants us to join H im in H is plan for H is people. Earlier in the chapter James is talking about submitting to God in our anger, our temptations and in what we say. Here, James is saying we need to turn our plans over to God on a daily basis. We should submit each day to God so that we can stay dependent on Him as we draw closer to hear Him.  It doesn’t mean we should not plan (Luke 14:28-33) but we should be careful that we don’t get too far ahead in our plans that we shut God out of what He wants to do with and through us in this season.- Pastor Dan; dan@217church.com


Q. How do I know what I am speaking is true? 

A. The first thing I need to ask to help answer your question is: “What are you saying?” If what you are saying is coming from scripture, then what you are saying is the truth. If what you’re saying is contradictory to scripture, then what you’re saying is not grounded in the absolute truth of the Bible. We live in an age where our world defines truth as something that is “relative” to us and our unique situations. So truth can be whatever I want it to be whenever I want it to be. That’s such a lie! Who am I to think that I can define what is ‘true’? Think about your own life for a moment. How long have you lived? What experiences have you gone through? How often have you put yourself before others? Tell me this, can we really define what is true when we are young (in the scope of all of eternity), we are only so experienced (when it comes to the volume of varying struggles people endure), and we primarily operate out of selfish ambition (rather than selfless activism)? Truth is outside of us. We do not define what is true, because what is true is bigger than us! God defines what is true, and He gives us the opportunity to live in the freedom of the truth! So please, think about what it is that you are saying! Where are the words coming from? What is your source? Are you the source, or is God the source? “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” – John 17:17.- Pastor Justin; justin @217church.com


Q.  How do you explain to someone that God doesn’t cause hardships to people such as when they lose some one close to them or they have a major disability when they question why did God do that to me?

A. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God has a plan for each of us – not to harm us, but to give us a hope and a future.  In Genesis 50:19, Joseph is faced with a situation and reminds the opposition that he is in God’s hands. We are not exempt from the events of life no matter how severe. But we have a loving God who can make beautiful things out of what stems from sin and evil purposes.  Trust that He can bring something good from what appears to be harmful.  It’s not God doing that thing to you. But watch what God can do through you as a result of your trust in Him through whatever you are facing. Proverbs 23:18 & 19 says, “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.” We can blame God for our circumstance. Or we direct our heart (in the midst of our pain) to look to God who loves us most for His blessing and provision in the moment. – Pastor Bonnie; bgay@princetonalliance.org


Q. How do you keep on living when you see no purpose in your life anymore or your life doesn’t turn out the way it is supposed to? I pretty much feel that I am at the end of my rope.

A. In Psalm 77:11 & 12 the writer is wondering what happened. It seems that life has changed and God has abandoned him.  So he says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”  In other words, look back – but only to remember what God has done, what He has already delivered you from, what is better in your life because of Him. If you’re a new follower of Christ and are having trouble recognizing God’s protection and provision in your life, remember 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away and behold the new has come.” Ask another Christian to tell you about God’s faithfulness in their life. Read the Bible and see what God does in the lives of those who trust Him. Ask Him to give you that same hope. Don’t give up. He will do the same for you. His promises are forever true.-  Pastor Bonnie; bgay@princetonalliance.org


Overcoming Temptation

What temptations are you facing in your life right now?  This Sunday at 217church we will address how to deal with these struggles.  One of my favorite stories in scripture was when Jesus was preparing for ministry. He was accompanied by Satan himself to the desert!  Jesus endured 40 days of preparation as he was taken to His limits and tested to see if He was ready for the task that was ahead.  Jesus was preparing for 3 years of grueling arguments, persecution, humiliation, and loneliness all leading up to defining moments of His victory, death on a cross followed by His resurrection!


“…God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

Temptation happens when our desires and God’s desires for us clash.  The question is, “How do I allow God to bend my own desires and bring them in line with what he wants for me?”  This means we are working from the starting point of depravity.  There is something wrong with us.  Something terribly wrong.  Keep this in mind, just because you are a follower of Jesus, it doesn’t mean the temptations will subside; it usually means they will increase.  The beautiful part of the picture, however, is realizing your new identity and calling in Jesus.  When you give your life to Christ, you are not saying, “I’ll try harder,” but you are submitting the purpose and will of your life to Jesus.  You submit to Him, then He continues His work in you to purify you.  (Philippians 2:12) This process is called sanctification.

5 Ways To Overcome Temptation

#1 You Already Have:  This may sound trite but you have already won!  Although you struggle with sin you aren’t defined by sin.  In countless places in scripture we are told who we are in Christ.  We are “more than conquerors, over-comers  adopted as sons and daughters, purchased at a price.”  I could go on and on.  Most of us simply have not made the decision to hate sin!  It has to be that strong.  It can’t be you kind of “don’t like it”  You can’t flirt with it and dance with it.  You have to hate it!  Hate it, HATE IT!  Speak out against it!  DESPISE it!  Then and only then will it be subdued in your life.  Remember it’s not your power that overcomes, but the power that is in you through the Holy Spirit. You may need a REVOLUTION in your mind and heart and the power of Jesus is accessible to YOU!

#2  Keep Your Eyes Forward:  This means what it means. Don’t be distracted by what is on your left or right but “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:14) Sometimes we lose our integrity and focus because we are too focused on the here and now.  We want immediate gratification and satisfaction of our wants as opposed to a long term better result.  When was the last time you saw your whole life before you and evaluated your current decision based on your eternal reality?  People who overcome temptation are able to see and anticipate their eternal future and the consequences of poor decisions.

#3 Diligently Prepare:  For some of you this may sound crazy.  Just when you think you have overcome a sin, the enemy will make it somehow seem more appealing and you better be ready.  Jesus’ words “man does not live on bread alone,” (Matthew 4:4)  are some of the most profound words ever spoken.  What you can anticipate, you can defeat.  Don’t act like you were caught off guard and keep in mind, “your adversary is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 peter 5:8)  One of the ways the enemy will deceive you is to “sterilize” your view of him. Don’t doubt that He is waiting for His moment to destroy you, but take heart.

#4 Protect Yourself:  This is common sense! If you are addicted to shopping, then maybe you should stay out of the mall? Guard your eyes!  Guard your heart!  Here is a common sense protection for your marriage:  Maybe I am just too old school, but meeting one on 0ne with a member of the opposite sex, who is not your spouse, when your married, seems like a recipe for disaster in your marriage.  Protect yourself by setting up practical behavioral wisdom guidelines.  It will save you a lot of unwanted temptation.  What affair didn’t start as an innocent conversation?  Pray prayers of protection and when you feel it getting difficult move on to #5.

#5 Get Someone To Watch Your Back: Unconfessed, private sin leads to a breeding ground of detrimental behavior.  This is where the church is at it’s finest!  You, me, brothers, sisters, willing to go to battle for each other!  Give me someone to fight for and I’ll immediately have passion.  This is where we say, “NOTHING PENETRATES THE UNITY OF OUR CHURCH!”  Not on my watch!  The bible says we should “confess our sins to one another.” (James 5:16) You may be thinking it is too personal, too private and too difficult.  I would submit to you that it is more difficult to struggle with private sin than it is to share it and ask for the prayer of others.  This means you have to find someone you can be honest with.  Your relationship is not just about confessing sins, but also about sharing the victories and receiving encouragement from someone who has your best interest in mind.

You got this church!  Let the resurrection power of Jesus live in you as you persevere towards the calling Jesus has for you!  OVERCOME!


Join us this Sunday at 9:30 or 11 am at the AMC 24 Theater in Hamilton, NJ!  We are a unique contemporary church in Central Jersey dedicated to restoring lives and rebuilding and renewing the community around us.  If you live in the Mercer County, Burlington County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA area, learn more about 217church by clicking HERE


The Benefits of Forgiving

In my marriage, I don’t think we could count the number of fights we have had.  It’s not like we don’t love each other, but we are two different people who are both sinful in nature.  No matter what the dispute, one thing is for sure, forgiving my wife is always worth it, even when it hurts.  But the most powerful words you can say are, “Will you forgive me?”

“…if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:13

Forgiving each other isn’t easy, as a matter of fact there are times when I don’t want to forgive, but in the end I am always thankful when I choose to forgive and ask forgiveness.


5 Benefits of Forgiving

1. Spiritual Clarity – Show me someone who claims to be close to Jesus, and by asking one simple question I can tell if it is true or not.  Here is that question:  “Is there anyone that you need to forgive?”  If the answer is “yes”, there is a spiritual block.  We see over and over in the New Testament Jesus telling his disciples that He is a God of grace.  When asked how many times one should forgive, Jesus blew the disciples minds and answered, seventy times seven.  (Matthew 18:22) This basically means you can’t stop forgiving.  Once you stop forgiving, stick a fork in your spiritual growth.  If you are willing to forgive, God will immediately excel your growth.  If you want to be on the fast track of God’s plan for your life, learn to forgive.

2. Deeper Intimacy – Whenever Summer and I fight, the intimacy comes when we forgive.  I joked last week as I was preaching that, those who learn how to “make-up” will probably end up “making-out”. It simply means the immediate benefit is depth of relationship.  I’m NOT suggesting you let someone abuse you, but I am reminding you that if you are unwilling to forgive your spouse, your intimacy will always suffer.  When people get married, they want to love and be loved.  Most people don’t get married to be hurt, but two sinners in a relationship will always hurt each other.  Forgiveness is not an option, but a mandate from scripture for marriage!

3. Eliminate Bitterness– Where there is authentic forgiveness, bitterness cannot take root.  I have counseled countless couples that just can’t forgive.  No matter what the offense, it seems the more you choose to withhold forgiveness, the deeper the bitterness penetrates.  Since we are holistic beings, a failure to learn to forgive will affect EVERY area of your life.  Not forgiving your spouse will affect your work, your leisure and worst of all your children.  Kids are perceptive and much smarter than you think.  Even my four-year-old daughter can perceive when mommy and daddy are not being nice to each other, even when we think we are hiding it.

4. A Worthy Example – Have you ever considered how many people are watching you and your marriage?  I’m not trying to stress you out or build the pressure, but if you claim to follow Jesus, your friends are watching to see if there is any substance to your faith.  If your religion is a punch line and a Sunday experience, you are harming the testimony of Jesus.  If there is no difference between you and your co-workers, you need to take a step back.  One of the most harmful things you can do at work is complain about your spouse.  Once you unleash the tongue to tear down your lover to others, they immediately will see through your phony facade of religion and reject your faith.  When you forgive your spouse, people around you benefit exponentially.

5. A Clear Conscience – Simply put, there is not much more satisfying than a clear conscience.   To know even though you did something wrong you asked forgiveness, is pure peace.  To know despite the hurt inflicted upon you, you forgave, IS PRICELESS!  When you forgive others it allows you to move forward with passion and integrity.  This means you have to STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!  When someone says to you, “I forgave”, and then they can’t stop talking about it, they didn’t forgive.  They are medicating with gossip.  If someone isn’t part of the problem or solution, leave them out of it.  Forgiving makes you a person of integrity and will kill your pride.

Dangerous Question: What do you need to forgive your spouse or a loved one for?  Isn’t it time you forgave?

This week at 217church, a Mercer County contemporary Christian church, we will learn from Song of Solomon how to ” Make-Up.” To read last weeks post on “Fighting Fair,” click here.

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My Prayer For You This Week

This morning, as I was thinking and praying through the first three weeks of our Song of Solomon Series my heart exploded for our 217church family. I know we are each experiencing this series on love, sex, and marriage from a different perspective and I know it isn’t easy.  As a matter of fact, for some of us, it is taking great courage to come and hear about these topics.  I know it hurts.  As much as I know it’s needed, I know it hurts.  I am humbled you are letting me walk through this series with you.  As I was praying this morning, I wanted to share some things I feel God is speaking to different groups of you and let you know how I am praying for all of you today.



How I Am Praying For You

#1 If You Are Divorced – My prayer is that you would sense the deep love and acceptance from Jesus, who in his last moments on the cross, chose a thief to be with him in eternity.  You are never beyond God’s grace and he forgives you.  You have asked forgiveness before in sincerity, and it is finished.  The guilt you feel is not from God.  May you rebuke the enemy as he accuses you and realize the power and confidence you have through Jesus.  “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26.   Although your spouse is not there, Jesus heals.  He heals!  If you are raising children, may you parent them with grace and understanding as you answer their difficult questions and have the joy of raising a Godly child parenting them well.

#2 If You Are Single – My prayer is you would know that Jesus is with you.  He knows what it is like to be lonely and ostracized.  He understands your pain of wanting something and having to wait.  May you never sell out and settle for second best.  Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Jesus understands your feelings and your body belongs to God.  May you raise the standard in your expectations of a future spouse who will love you like you deserve to be loved.  If you are living together with someone who is not your spouse, may you be awakened in your error and may you receive grace from God and move out because you are a person of principle and a child of God.

#3 If You Are Married – My prayer is where there is healing needed you would understand and receive it.  For you who have struggled in your physical intimacy, may you be restored in your marriage.  May your covenant be renewed and may you return to and embrace the wife or the husband of your youth.  Where there has been cheating, may there be restoration, where there has been resentment and bitterness, may you receive peace, forgiveness and oneness with your spouse.  God believes in your marriage. It’s worth it, NEVER GIVE UP! “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6 

#4 If You Have Been Sexually Abused – The person who abused you stole from you and had no right to, but I pray you will forgive them.  There is healing and there is a pathway forward. Understand no one can ever steal the grace Jesus gives to you and He has the power to restore your mind and the way you think about your body. Know your body belongs to God, He values you and he loves you.

#5 If You Are In An Unhealthy Relationship – My prayer is you find your identity in Christ and not in another person.  May you stop trying to fill the gap in your life with other people and may you turn to Jesus.  May you be a person of courage and break up with that man, woman, boy or girl who is not God’s best for you.  May you be built up by those around you who would encourage you and pour into you more than they take from you.

#6 If You Are a High Schooler or Middle Schooler – Maybe you feel you have blown it and have already made a bad choice.  My prayer is you would know that no boy or girl defines your worth.  Jesus already defined your worth when he died on the cross and claimed everything about you as HIS!  This includes your body.  It belongs to God.  May everything you choose to do with it be a worship to God.  May you live Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore brothers, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

#7 You’ve Remained Pure Sexually – You have been given a gift.  May you remain steadfast in your commitment to your future spouse.  May you find the wife or husband that God has for you in his due time.  May you prepare for your wedding day by drawing close to God and learning to serve, sacrifice and live the Gospel everyday.  May you be blessed with a lifelong covenant help mate that you will serve and draw close to who will show you what it means to be like Jesus.

I love you all and want to remind you about our March 24th Vow Renewal Weekend.  We will be celebrating the marriage covenant and how God will remain faithful to us in our marriages.

All-Out Dependency

Talk about depending on God! Last weekend at 217, over 90 people committed to the 10 day Daniel fast. Were are fasting from 4 things.

1. Caffeine

2. Sugar and Sugar Substitutes

3. Fast Food

4. Alcohol

It is always powerful to see a group of people rally together for one purpose. At 217 these last few weeks that purpose has been pursuing God through physical health. With over 100 people on the weight loss challenge and over 90 on the Daniel fast, there is one key area that we have been growing in as Christ followers during this Live Differently series.


We had a chance to look at the life of Daniel and a few of the friends he had around him as they pursued God’s calling on their lives. Daniel was a normal guy who believed and depended on an extraordinary God. In Daniel 1 he is asked to hop on a “royal diet” and train to stand out among other men doing the same. The challenge to eat well and work out was for 10 days. But instead of doing the royal diet, Daniel ate what God had intended for him. Turns out Daniel and his buddies looked and felt better than any of the other guys on the “royal diet.” As it turns out not only did Daniel feel good and look good but he was given the ability to interpret dreams and see visions. So he became the official dream interpreter for the king.

For Daniel, chapter 1 of his life had nothing to do with a diet and everything to do with dependency on God. Through all the great stories we know about in the book of Daniel, like his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the fiery furnace or Daniel surviving in the lion’s den, it all began with a diet. The diet taught Daniel to be faithful with the small. Because later he would be faced with some really tough challenges while although much harder to go through, required the same dependency.

“The world will fill you in, but only God will fill you up”

Everywhere we go we are bombarded by the next thing we should buy. The next thing we should watch. Eat. Consume. Order. Subscribe to. When it comes to our difficult circumstances? We are bombarded with all different kinds of voices on how to make it through. Friends. Co-workers. TV shows. Self-help books. We are offered the “royal diet” whether it’s for our food or our issues and there is no doubt that the world can be loud sometimes as it is “Filling us in.”

But much like Daniel, its important for us to constantly remember that it is God and God alone that gets us through our circumstances. Ultimately this fast is not primarily about our physical health rather more our spiritual health. It has to do more with the question “Who am I depending on?” Is it the world that is filling me in or the God that fills me up.

This past weekend we prayed for over 50 people who wanted to be reacquainted with the voice of the God who fills us up over the world thats been filling us in. We remembered that like Daniel, if we are faithful in the small (diet) He will be faithful in the big (lions den).

So as we continue on to the second half of this fast. We aren’t thinking “this food is terrible.” or “I really want a coffee.” We are thinking “This addiction will be broken and this relationship restored.”  Why? Because the same dependency on God for physical health that is getting us through this diet, will get us through our hardest circumstances in life.

We choose this week and going forward to remain faithful to the God who fills us up. Fully dependent on Him who can do infinitely more than we could ever ask or imagine. May you all today walk harmlessly in the midst of your fiery furnace, and may you shut the mouths of the lions in your life by the power of the Holy Spirit!!!


Guest Blogger- Pastor Kevin Namur


Finishing Together

Sunday morning I ran farther than I have ever run in my life. It was my first marathon, 26.2 miles and I was running it with my brother Adam. All at once, We were caught up with 43,000 other runners on a journey from Staten Island through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx, finishing in Central park.

We did not run this to beat other people, (We finished a couple of hours behind Meb) we ran this to finish together. We ran to create a story, a memory that would never be forgotten. We ran this to be a part of something, to challenge our bodies and minds to go to the edge of endurance and then some. We ran to encourage each other. We knew that what we were feeling, there was someone right beside us who was feeling the same thing.

I saw so many people cross the finish line alone, raising their hands in victory in personal accomplishments, and great accomplishments they were. But life isn’t about finishing or winning alone, it is about finishing together. Sharing experiences and getting someone else to the finish. That day it was two men, who grew up together, trained a few hundred miles over 18 weeks each, and then ran a race, together. Finished together.

Whatever you do, don’t do it alone. inspire someone, love someone, help someone. That is what this blog is about…

It was a once in a lifetime experience. Crossing the finish line with someone who has known me my whole life