My wife and I recently took a trip up to Strawberry. If you have never been, it’s this small little town up north, tucked into a beautiful stretch of forest. There isn’t much in the way of “entertainment” in Strawberry, in fact, there isn’t much of anything! That’s part of its appeal for my wife and I when we go on a trip, no people!
One day, we decided to go out on a hike at the Tonto Natural Bridge just outside of Payson. That place is amazing! There is this huge “bridge” which is just a hole that water has eroded into this hillside over thousands and thousands of years. It’s a breathtaking sight to behold. I am always in awe of the craftsmanship of God when I see things like that!
My wife and I intended to hike down the hillside into the cave but the park ranger warned us that the way is dangerous. We had Marcy at the time, so one of us (me) had to strap her in our man-made kangaroo pouch holder backpack thing to our chest and walk down this huge, slippery hill! Unfortunately, we didn’t have the equipment nor the stamina to try to make it down. It was disappointing because this is the reason people go to the park!
As we were walking back, we saw a smaller more hidden trail going down to a waterfall. We decided to give it a shot! I mean, why not, we didn’t want to come this way for nothing. Turns out, that trail is shorter but no less slippery or dangerous! So with Marcy strapped to my chest, we traversed the hillside on our way down to this waterfall. When we arrived, we were shocked at what we saw or I guess I should say what we didn’t see.
The waterfall, if you can call it that, was merely a trickle down the side of the hill. Yet, it was beautiful in it’s own right. A hidden beauty, tucked away from the rest of the park. It’s amazing how satisfying even a trickle of water can be when you have been walking with another person strapped to your chest in the heat down a dangerous hillside! It was life giving and raised our spirits that we didn’t come for nothing. (The image attached to this email is the "waterfall")
I tell this story for this purpose; Jesus invites us as Christians to follow Him. Early Christians would call this life of discipleship “the Way”. Jesus Himself gave that name when He said that He is “the Way” (John 14:6). My little story reminds me of Matthew 7:13-14.
Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
As disciples of Jesus, we are invited into “the Way”. What is “the Way”? It’s Jesus, His life, His example, His teachings. The reason so few find that road or way that leads to life is because it’s narrow and it’s difficult. Look at Jesus and the disciples, wanderers who brought healing and blessing wherever they went but who were also persecuted and attacked everywhere they went. What was the end of Jesus life and ministry? It’s the cross. Could the cross be “the Way”? Why should we want such a thing?
We don’t, this is why so few choose it. Yet, the story doesn’t end with the cross but the resurrection. Jesus rises and promises us that same resurrection if we would only follow His Way. The Way of the cross. Giving up everything and anything for the sake of following Him and Him alone. This is “the Way”
At the end of this way is much more than a trickle of water down a moss-covered cave, like in my story. Instead, there is a river.
Then he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the city’s main street. The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more; people will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will give them light, and they will reign forever and ever. – Revelation 22:1-5
As we continue in our Kingdom series, we will continue to talk about the struggles, the hardships, and the blessings of following “the Way”. May this picture of hope, restoration, and rest be a small trickle of water that blesses you in your journey. Some small bit of hope that gives you life and the desire to keep pushing forward on in “the Way”. For the end of this journey is not death, as it is for those who follow the wide road, but it is life! Life more abundantly than we could ever hope or ask for in this world.
Backpack drive for the Dysart Community Center
As I have been saying at church, there is a huge need for backpacks for students whose families simply don’t have the financial bandwidth to give their kid’s what they need for school. We have an opportunity to meet that need.
Please fill a backpack (or several) and bring them down to the church in the next few weeks. We promised the Dysart Community Center we would have them to them before August 1st. Our goal is 100 backpacks! We would love to have you fill one, you can get the list at this link https://surprise.church/page/581?EventOccurrenceId=97
Service day at Valley View Community Foodbank
We have a service day at Valley View Community Foodbank coming up on July 30th. It looks like we have all of the volunteers we need for that event! You guys are awesome. Brad will be in contact with info if you signed up. If you have any questions, email Brad Reese.
Open Mic Weekend
We will be having an open mic weekend on July 31st. If you haven’t been with us when we have done one of these before, what we do is we open a Sunday service for a Q and A style service. Instead of having a typical sermon, I take y’all’s questions and do the best I can to give practical, biblical answers. Look forward to that on the 31st and bring your questions!
We have our annual pool party coming up on August 20th from 6:30-8:30. We will be renting out the Surprise Aquatic Center (15831 N Bullard Ave, Surprise, AZ 85374).
The agenda is to have fun! The hope is to celebrate a few baptisms, as we do every year, as a church family. If you would like to be baptized at the event, get in contact with me Drew Carroll.
We are asking you to bring a desert of some kind, be creative! I hope to see you guys there.
- Reminder that youth (6th-12th) meets every other week after second service. For more info email Bryan Brown.
- If you would like to volunteer, you can sign up here https://surprise.church/Serve.
- If you would like to give to the church, you can do so here https://surprise.church/Give.
- If you would like to read the Psalm before service, reach out to me Drew Carroll or talk to me on Sunday.
- Remember that Grief Share meets at the building on Mondays at 7. If you or a loved one are struggling through grief, this is an amazing ministry that I pray you will consider joining. You can get more information here https://surprise.church/GriefShare.
- AA meets on Friday nights at 6:30, more information is available at www.aa.org.
- If you would like to sign up for a life group, you can do so here https://surprise.church/LifeGroups or contact Brian Starr.
- Finally, we would love to pray for you. Anytime you can fill out a prayer request here https://surprise.church/prayer our elders and staff would love to pray for you.
There is a lot going on at Surprise Christian Church! I hope and pray that you feel connected and involved with us. We want help grow a church devoted to discipleship, carrying one another’s burdens, as we all walk together on “the Way”.
Grace and Peace to you,
Pastor Drew Carroll