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Pastor Tim Swigarts Blog

Missio Dei is a Contemporary Baptist Church located in historic Galena IL. Senior Pastor Tim Swigart shares his thoughts on numerous topics concerning the church.

The Battle for Our Minds

Timothy Swigart

It seems nearly every single sin we commit against God, ourselves, or others originates with a thought. Thus, there is a battle raging for our minds. Does the Bible give us any practical advice on how to better control our thought lives?

The simple answer is: "Yes." The Bible gives us many practical tips on controlling our thought lives. One such tip is found in Philippians 4:8. In this single verse, Paul gives us a practical plan for managing our thought lives. He writes: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Essentially, Paul is imploring us to fill our minds with good and honorable thoughts. I believe his advice is good, because it crowds out those evil and vile thoughts that race through our minds. There's simply no thought-space available to dwell on sin, if our thoughts are fully consumed by that which is good.

So, how do we train our minds to dwell on the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely...thoughts that Paul writes of in Philippians 4. I think one practical way is to spend time in our Bibles learning about Jesus. Jesus meets the definition of all these positive attributes. The better we know Jesus and the more time we spend thinking of Him, the less room there will be for harboring those thoughts that cause us to sin.

As I write this, I cannot escape the thoughts of being a hypocrite, myself. I struggle with my thought life - probably more than most. I have been earnestly trying to practice this process of dwelling on good thoughts to crowd out the bad for some time now. I won't lie, I still struggle to keep my mind from being overtaken. But, I will say, that I have seen improvement over time. That's why I feel I should share this with others. It won't cure you of those thoughts that lead to sin, but it does help. Keep battling...I know I will.

The Gospel

Timothy Swigart

One day, Jesus was tested by a lawyer. We find the test in Matthew 22:35-40. Matthew records the test this way: "And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'"

To a culture obsessed with the Law and with keeping rules, Jesus sums up all the Law in two summary statements - what we call the Great Commandments. In doing so, Jesus gives us the measure by which we must live.

But, if we really pay attention to this text, we find that we have a significant problem on our hands. Who can keep even these two commandments perfectly? We must ask ourselves: do we love God with all our heart, soul and mind all the time? Do we really love our neighbor as we love ourselves all the time? The simple answer is no. We fall short of God’s expectations on both accounts.

The Gospel is critical at this point. The Gospel recognizes that we do not and can not keep the Law perfectly. Even when Jesus pairs the whole totality of the Law into two commandments, we fall woefully short. The Gospel teaches us that we are not saved by rule keeping. Rather, we are saved, because God has shown us mercy and grace. God has rescued those who trust in Jesus through Jesus's death and resurrection. Our sins were placed on Jesus and punished in His body. In return, Jesus' perfect obedience to the Law (including the two greatest commandments) has been imputed upon believers. When we stand in Christ, we stand in perfect righteousness.

The Gospel is amazing! If you'd like to hear more about this Gospel, contact me through the contact tab on this website. I'd love to share more about God’s love with you at a time convenient for you.

God's Gift to You

Timothy Swigart

Perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible is John 3:16. It's well-known for good reason. It communicates God's love for those who are far and near. Let's take a look at this love:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16-18

As a father, myself, the thought of giving my son to save others is almost unimaginable. God knew what it would cost to save us, and He willingly paid the price. Can you imagine watching your only son be nailed to a cross? Can you imagine the agony of seeing him whipped? I cannot imagine giving my son the way God gave His. His love is so amazing!

God is in the rescue business. God isn't out to get you; He's reaching out to you in love through Jesus, His Son. Jesus paid the ultimate price to secure a salvation you cannot earn. God is offering all people an abundantly good and eternal life through faith in His Son. No tricks...just an amazing offer of life through Jesus.

As with any gift, we must decide to accept it or reject it. Jesus says that those who receive God's gift through faith will be saved from the consequences of sin. Those who reject God's gift will not be saved. Why would anyone not receive this amazing gift?

If you have not received Jesus by faith and would like to know how to do that, contact me through the contact tab on this site. I'm not here to judge; I'm here to help people receive the gift God has given.

Everyday Missionaries

Timothy Swigart

Right before returning to Heaven, Jesus gave this directive to His followers: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 18:19-20). This directive is addressed not only to those who were listening that day, but to all who would follow Christ in the years to come. We are a missional people with a divine commission to share Christ with the world.

Now, most of us won't be quitting our jobs to become full-time missionaries. And that's okay. Not everyone is called to foreign lands. However, we are all called to be missionaries in our spheres of influence. God has placed all of us in a mission field. If you look around and think deeply about those people you spend time with each week, whether it be at home, work, school or play, you're going to notice that many of those people do not have a relationship with Jesus. I believe God has providentially placed you in their lives to be a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, this week, begin to view your world through missional eyes. Who has God placed in your sphere of influence? Do they know Christ? If not, share the good news with them; share your own personal testimony or experience with Christ. It may be the most important conversation you have with them in a lifetime. We are everyday missionaries.

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Get Connected

Timothy Swigart

So many Christians today are trying to grow in their relationship with Christ without being involved consistently with a local body of believers. The net result of this striving is often a slow drift from Christ and other believers. You simply cannot grow closer in your walk with Christ without being involved in a church. It's simply not designed to work that way.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, the author writes, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." The author recognized the vital need for involvement in the church. We need the consistent encouragement provided by our brothers and sisters in Christ as the Spirit moves through His Church. We cannot get that apart from a local body of believers.

Consider the way Jesus loved the Church. Paul writes, "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus gave His very life to care for the Church. Do we love the church like that? Are we willing to sacrifice for the church? For many, the answer sadly is "no."

Often times, our excuses for skipping church are really an indication of priorities more than anything. We simply prioritize many things above church. Why is that? Why doesn't belonging to Christ's Body stir us to eagerly anticipate our time spent with other believers? What does it say about our love for God when we prioritize other things over time spent with Him in worship with other believers?

If you're struggling to plug in, I'd encourage you to stop by one of our small groups. Contact me through the contact tab for directions. We'd love to have you join us as we worship the One True God together!

Brokenness

Timothy Swigart

We see brokenness all around us. Our government, institutions and families reflect brokenness. Every aspect of life is less than what we had hoped it would be. Brokenness is undeniable. So what is one to do?

Every major world religion attempts to answer the questions of brokenness. People across the globe are trying in one way or another to overcome the brokenness they feel. So what separates Christianity's approach to brokenness from all other approaches?

Christians understand that they are hopelessly broken and cannot do anything to fix the mess. Most of us know this, because we've tried very hard to fix the mess ourselves. God also knows that we're hopelessly broken - unable to save ourselves. So, He sent His Son Jesus to save us. You see, our sin and brokenness deserve to be punished by a just and holy God. We owe a debt. Jesus came to pay that debt for us. He was punished in our place for the sins we have committed. He then rose from the dead conquering death (the end result of brokenness) once and for all.

Christians, therefore, place their faith in the accomplished work of Jesus. We believe we have been forgiven when we ask (1 John 1:9) in faith. We accept the fact that we can do nothing to save ourselves; we receive the gift God has given us through His Son's sacrifice on our behalf. When we repent (change the orientation of our lives away from ourselves and towards God), we are free to pursue God's design for our lives. His design is perfect in its beauty.

So, do you feel broken? Would you like to pursue a better design for this world? Contact me through this website and we can talk about it. Or, stop by one of our small group meetings throughout the week. Don't let brokenness consume you - let God begin to fix the mess.

God Will Draw Near

Timothy Swigart

I have a little statue in my office. It's a statue of a man on his knees praying to God. It has a Bible verse etched on the base. The verse is Jeremiah 29:13, which says, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." In this verse God makes an incredible statement. In essence, He's saying that He will be found by those who seek to know Him. He is not hiding from His people. Instead, He places Himself in a place where He can be found.

James writes a similar statement many years later in the book that bears his name. James 4:8a says, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you..." Again, this is incredible! The all-powerful Creator of the Universe will draw near to those who seek to draw near to Him! God will not leave us hanging! He will come to us as we seek Him and draw near to Him.

This truth taught by Scripture is so comforting for those of us who have received Jesus Christ by faith. We are never alone; God is always near. When God feels far away, we need only to draw near to Him. He never turns a cold shoulder. Instead He opens His arms to embrace us as a loving father embraces his child.

Are you actively seeking to know God? The Bible says you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart. Our church was birthed with the notion that we're all on a spiritual journey. This journey is a long and often difficult road. That's why we choose to journey together. Our mission states that we exist to help people take their next step towards Christ together. We exist to draw nearer and nearer to God together. We draw near to God collectively knowing without a doubt that God will draw near to us. He is a great God! Knowing Him is the greatest joy in life. If you'd like to draw near to Him with us, let us know through the "contact us" tab on this site. We'd love to journey with you.

Imagine a Better World

Timothy Swigart

Imagine what the world could be like if Christians lived like this:

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.' To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:9-21.

Is it possible to live this way? In God's strength it is. Pray with me that God would provide each of us with the strength to embrace this kind of life. Consider joining us as we attempt to encourage one another along the way.