From the Heart

by Pastor Jeff

November/December 2022

It’s been quite a week! Last Tuesday I entered the OSF St. Anthony’s ER knowing that I would not be leaving until my heart had been repaired. I really did not feel fearful during my stay at the hospital until I was wheeled in my bed to the 2nd floor surgical unit on Wednesday afternoon. I was transferred to a narrow, surgical bed in a very cold room with Dr. Alejandro Aquino and five nurses assisting him, to perform my angiogram which could have led to open-heart surgery. I felt very vulnerable and helpless before and during that procedure. Thankfully, I only needed two stents inserted into my right coronary artery. By God’s grace, I was able to walk out of St. Anthony hospital on Thursday afternoon. I am also so thankful that I sustained no heart damage.

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is vitally important that we thank our Lord God for all of his blessings in our lives. Why? Because, if we really think about it, God has blessed our lives in so many ways! So many, that if we begin to list them, we could go on all day long: for life itself, for our personal relationship with Jesus Christ (See “Christmas Blessings”), the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our family members, our friends, our church, God’s word, our jobs, our health, our home, having enough food to eat, our transportation, and our country that we live in. What a blessing it is to live in a country where we are free to live wherever we want, and where we have so many options for careers of our choice. That is just a start for our “blessings list!”

God’s word has a lot to say about having an attitude of thankfulness: Psalm 95:2, “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” Psalm 100:4, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 136:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” 1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

My central point is this: during the next month and a half, I want to encourage you to invest some quality time every day to just sit quietly and to thank God the Father for all of your many blessings. Say them out loud…tell God, by name, some special people who have blessed and encouraged you in your life. In the midst of buying presents and doing your chores, set aside some time with the Lord to express your gratitude to him for all the many blessings that he has bestowed upon you. Like me, we all have a lot to be thankful for!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

July/August 2022

Nobody ever thought that Lou Gehrig’s amazing record of playing 2,131 straight professional baseball games in a row would ever be broken. But, on September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. did break the “Iron Man” major league baseball record! And, Cal Ripken played almost another full year of baseball, making him the toughest and most consistent baseball player of all time.

In Eugene Peterson’s insightful book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, he encourages Christians to accept Jesus Christ’s challenge to “take up your cross and follow Me daily,” and to keep doing that for a long, long time! The results of a long, consistent obedience to Christ will be a well-honed Christian character, a strong witness to a world of unbelieving spiritual seekers, and more productive spiritual fruit to build God’s eternal kingdom. Imagine entering through the gates of Heaven and, like the apostle Paul, hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23, 2 Timothy 4:8)

Now, living daily for Christ is not an easy task. God’s word says that we have three opponents to contend with, “The world, the flesh, and the Devil.” (1 John 2:15-16) We have to fight temptation, pride, discouragement, anger, jealousy, and fear on a daily basis. The battle for our souls is very real! So, in order to overcome Satan’s onslaught we must be spiritually strong, and that comes through much prayer, meditating on God’s word, spending time being encouraged by other Christ-followers, and sharing your faith in Christ with seekers who are trying to find the truth. (In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”)

In closing, as we keep drawing upon God’s strength, be encouraged knowing that God gives you all the weapons you need to overcome the Enemy and to live Victoriously! “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then with the belt of truth…with the breastplate of righteousness…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition, take up the shield of faith… and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the spirit on all occasions…be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:12-18)

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

May/June 2022

“Carpe Diem” is a Latin phrase which means “Seize the day!” Okay Jeff, what’s the point? Well…summer is almost here and we are finally coming out of hibernation after a long, cold winter. Most of us try to schedule more fun, outdoor activities in the summer and everyone is spending more time outside now. We actually start to see our neighbors more in the spring and summer, and we have more chances to talk to the people that live near us as we walk the dog, do yard work, wash our car, or just go for a stroll. Summer is the perfect time to build friendships and even earn the opportunity to experience “friendship evangelism!”

In Colossians 4:5-6, Paul proclaims, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” So, since people around you are more accessible to you in the spring and summer, why not take advantage of the natural opportunities that God gives us to be “good witnesses” of joyfulness, friendliness, gentleness, kindness, and Godliness.

But how, you say? Some thoughts… wave at people. Say “hello!” Ask how their family is doing. Be encouraging. Listen more than than you talk, show concern, ask if you can pray for your neighbor. You could even get together with some friends and organize a block party!

The point is: be creative in developing your new relationships with your neighbors. The fact is, most people become Christians through a close relationship with a friend. In John 4:35, Jesus revealed (talking about people in need of salvation)… “I tell you, open your eyes, and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”

You see, life has purpose! Jesus has called us to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:8-20) by giving our friends, neighbors, our family, and acquaintances the opportunity to ask Jesus into their lives. This spring and summer, let’s seize the day!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

March/April 2022

There is a sickness going around lately, and no,it's not Covid, the flu, or the common cold……it's cabin fever! This fever has effected an astonishing 98% of the local population! Of course, the only cure will be a prolonged period of above 60 degree weather! This will turn people's yawns into smiles, winter coats will be replaced by short-sleeved shirts, and winter boots will be replaced by flip-flops and tennis shoes! It'll be time for a walk on the Rock River bike path, a round of golf, picnics at Rock Cut State Park, and grilling out brats and burgers! March is the month of H-O-P-E! Just knowing we've almost made it to springtime, that flowers and trees will begin to bud, green grass will begin to emerge, and we'll be enjoying blue skies and warm sunshine, brings a smile to our faces!

Here are some Bible passages that reflect the ultimate hope that only knowing Jesus Christ can make possible:

In 1 Corinthians 15:55-58, Paul proclaims, "O grave, where is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, stand firm. Let nothing move you! Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain!"

Paul also exclaims in Romans 8:31-23, "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all~how will he not also graciously give us all things?"

Later, in Romans 8:35-39, Paul exhorts all believers, "Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or danger, the sword. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons…neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

And finally, Paul shares this victorious message in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!"

So, hold onto hope! Spring is almost here, and Christ is already with you, my friends!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

November/December 2021

There is something mystical about November and December for this Midwestern boy-at-heart, and I love every minute of it! From the crispness in the air, the falling of the leaves, the magnificent gold, red, orange, and brown colors on the trees, cornstalks and pumpkins, the faint v-formation of the Canadian geese heading south for the winter, and the cold winds coming down from the northwestern skies; all these “signs” point to a stark change of the seasons ahead. In America’s heartland the crops have been harvested, bundled, and stored away for the winter. This is the season of God’s completion. God’s season of birth and growth has now come full-circle! Now is the time to look back at all that God has accomplished. It’s a time to look up to Heaven and thank God for all He has done to provide for our needs and His constant presence, provision, and protection throughout the entire year!

Of course, the culmination of November is Thanksgiving. In October of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made the proclamation that on the last Thursday of November, from then on in America, a day would be set aside as “a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Heavenly Father.” Thanksgiving is our reminder that all that we have and enjoy comes from God: our wisdom, our strength, our resources, our jobs, our food, our families, our friends, our shelter, our faith, and our hope. Thanksgiving is the one holiday that virtually all 332 million Americans recognize and celebrate. It is, in essence, “wrapping up the year in a Thanksgiving bow!”

And now, as the year’s finale, we will soon enjoy one last chapter…the season of wonder…the season of Christmas…the season of celebrating the birth of God’s son, Jesus Christ! So: brace yourselves, and let the celebration begin! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a joyous Christmas!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

September/October 2021

Hello, my Northridge family! We are beginning to embark on my favorite season…fall! Let me explain my logic. Fall is a time of new beginnings. The kids are back in school, and most of us are back on a normal schedule. Football is beginning. Edwards Apple Orchard has fresh donuts and pumpkins for sale The trees are about to show off their stunning orange, red, and gold colors. Farmers are about to begin harvesting their crops. It’s time for sweaters, flannel, cozy blankets, and hiking boots. There are bonfires and hayrides. There is an undeniable magic in the air. Thanksgiving, a special time to thank God for his provisions, is on the horizon! How about you? What do you love about the fall season?

One thing is for sure, each season brings about change, just like the seasons of our lives. And most of us tend to resist change, because it takes us out of our comfort zones. Moses didn't want to go back to Egypt to free the Israelites because he felt inadequate. Jonah didn’t want to preach judgement and redemption to the Ninevites because he couldn’t stand them. Peter didn't want Jesus to die because he felt safe when the Son of God was with them.

Here’s the thing. We only grow and mature as we move forward, take risks, and make spiritual progress. When Ann and I moved up to St. Paul, MN in 1977 to get my Masters of Divinity degree, it was a little scary. We had only been married nine months. But that change of venue and career helped us to grow up together, made our marriage stronger, and helped prepare us for ministry. It was truly a life-changing opportunity that we are so glad that we made! It literally changed the entire trajectory of our lives.

So, I have a question for you: is God challenging you to begin a new season in your life? Maybe a whole new career? A new ministry? I urge you not to ignore God’s nudge in your life. Listen to God through prayer, through His Word, by listening to wise counsel, and by the challenge of Godly people who may see something exciting in you that you didn’t see yourself. Be open to allowing God to use you to help others come closer to Jesus Christ. Show the people around you how much you love the Lord—be salt and light—and smile! Let the love of Christ shine through you!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they might see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

September/October 2020

"Synergy"...that's one of the chapters in Steven Covey's classic book, "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." So, what does it mean? Synergy is the process in which the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. When synergy occurs, it stresses the fact that interdependence is much more powerful and effective than independence, When we work together toward a common goal we are, in essence, saying that we need each other. Ecclesiastes 4:12 I says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not easily broken."

The Apostle Paul spent a whole chapter Talking about the importance of "Christian Synergy" in 1 Corinthians 12 as he explained how the body of Christ works, verses 12,16-19 say "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ .... the eye cannot say to the hand 'I don't need you.' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you.' If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But, in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be." And in verse 27, Paul states, "Now you are the Body of Christ, and each one of you is a perfect part of it."

So, what's the point for me? you might be thinking. Well, our church Northridge, is coming back together in the month of September. We are going to meet directly across the street from Rockford University for now, because the YWCA is still closed to the public. Our temporary location is the Health Professional Building, 4915 E. State St. It's the gray building just west of Sherman Williams and Caratta Chiropractic. Definitely a blessing! That is where we have been recording "Facebook Live" since mid-March, when the Corona Virus hit the U.S.A. The plan is that our Children's Ministry location will be upstairs and our adult church service will be downstairs. This location is a little more "cozy" then the YWCA, but it still serves us well for now. God has provided this building for us and if you have not been to our temporary location (about 18 people have already attended our "Facebook Live" services) We would love to have you come join us in September and beyond! We need you there to be the whole body again! You see, together we are Northridge Community Church! Come see our temporary location (really nice) have some coffee, juice or water and donuts then join us for praise and worship.

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

July/August 2020

When I think of people that truly inspire me, one person that stands tall is a lady that can't stand at all, Joni Eareckson Tada. Paralyzed in a tragic swimming accident when she was 18, it left her a quadriplegic. Joni chose not to let her physical limitations stop her from becoming an acclaimed author, an amazing artist, and an inspirational speaker to millions. But, most importantly, Joni is an outstanding Christian lady that simply radiates God's love and grace before everybody she meets. It humbles me to listen to her and observe her, and to recognize that nothing can hinder the Holy Spirit's power in the life of one totally obedient child of God!

In Honi's devotional classic, "Secret Strength," she writes an article entitled "Competent to Comfort" in which she shares that every Christian has the ability to comfort another person, no matter how deep their pain might be. The secret to this comfortability is found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, where Paul writes, "Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have recieved from God." You see because we have been recipients of God's comfort we now have the ability and the priviledge to pass on to others the same comfort that God has bestowed onto us! We have been given God's peace and freedom because we are eternally in close connection with our God! You see, God's grace is more than adequate to comfort any person, no matter how weighty their dilemma, be it struggling with an addiction, dealing with a crippling disease, overcoming severe depression, stunned by a financial setback, or working through the death of a loved one.

Bottom line: Don't hold back from giving love and support to those with great needs. You don't need a master's degree in psychology to simply "be there for someone who is walking through the valley of despair. Compassion does not require technical training - it only requires a tender, sensitive heart; one that listens when God calls you to go meet with one who is hurting.

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

May/June 2020

To my NorthRidge family! As I look out the window on this cold, rainy day, I have been reflecting on the almost surreal circumstances we have all been experiencing for the past 45 days. The pandemic, the coronavirus, COVID-19: these are medical terms we are all-too-familiar with now! Certainly, this has been the strangest spring most of us have ever experienced! We all have “cabin-fever” and we all are longing for normalcy! So, with that in mind, I’d like to share a few words with you that have been helping me maintain my sanity and composure for these past 2 months.

WORD 1: Faith
Trusting God with an uncertain future.
“Confidence in what we hope for.”
Heb. 11:1-3

WORD 2: Endurance
Pressing forward in serving God
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”
Heb. 12:1-3

Word 3: Prayer & Peace
Being anxious for nothing and asking for God’s help instead
“Let your request be made known to God & the peace of God will guard your hearts & minds.”
Phil. 4:19

Word 4: Contentment
Being satisfied with your current situation, because God is with you.
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Phil. 4:11-13

Word 5: Resilience
Confidence in God’s ability to provide for your needs
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
Phil. 4:19

I hope that these verses will strengthen you as we near the finish line; And soon we’ll be back together again as the NorthRidge family!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

March/April 2020

I am sitting in a local restaurant with the sun beating down on my shoulders, and I am smiling. Why am I so happy? Because spring is right around the corner! Even though we had a mild winter, I think we are all ready for warmer weather, green grass, buds on the trees, and flowers starting to pop out of the ground again. (Can I hear an “Amen”!). The word “renewal” applies to Spring. Soon, the creation around us will begin to re-emerge; and in turn, we will all feel re-invigorated.

So how do we apply the concepts of renewal to our Christian life? I believe the answer is to re-connect with God each day through studying God’s word and through conversing with God through prayer. Sound familiar? Yep, it’s back to the basics, folks. Today, I took part in a ministers retreat up at Caledonia congregational church. We all spent some time alone with the Lord. It was simple, but I emerged very inspired and humbled. I realized that I need to spend more quality time alone with my creator! I would like to share some thoughts that I rediscovered in Psalm 46 today...

Verse one – “God is our refuge and strength, and ever present help in times of trouble.”

Verse seven – “the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Verse 10 – He (the lord) says, “be still and know that I am God.”

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

P.S. Don’t forget to spring forward on Sunday, March 8th!

January/February 2020

For me, starting a new year is always kind of a strange process, especially when it’s also a new decade! It’s always been a benchmark, time when you start a new calendar, buy a new DayTimer, make New Years resolutions (see 2019 and repeat!), renew your gym membership and then pray that the ice and snow won’t match last year's. And then there’s the “great unknown”, wondering what 2020 will hold for you, your family, and your friends.

There is always the temptation to want to foresee all that’s going to happen in our lives before it actually happens. But, that’s impossible. Plus, it would take all the surprise out of life. No, God has designed our lives so that we must trust him with our future!

With that, here are some truths to ponder in 2020:

  1. Trust in God. God already knows your future and he is in control! You can trust God completely with what lies ahead. 2 Samuel 22:2, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliver… In whom I take refuge… I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”
  2. Study God’s Word. God’s word is our reliable source for finding God‘s wisdom. Psalm 119:105, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.”
  3. Obey God. True success in life comes from consistent obedience to God. John 15:10, “if you obey My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.”
  4. Pray. To know God‘s mind, talk to God consistently through prayer. Psalm 5:3, “In the morning oh Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

I hope you have a great year in 2020!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

November/December 2019

I’m looking out the window of a restaurant as two inches of snow have come down so far. What is so unusual is that it’s only October 31st! There are multiple weather sources (including the Farmer’s almanac) that are predicting above normal precipitation this winter. So, how do you approach the coming season; with a thankful heart or with dread and despair? Every day we have a choice to make that impacts everything else in our life…It’s our attitude!

During the month of November, my messages are going to address GRATITUDE and THANKFULNESS. I believe that the things we will learn could be truly life-changing! Why? Because the way you and I perceive the the lives we live affects every aspect of who we are emotionally, relationally, spiritually and even physically. If we chose to be negative and ungrateful then we will become self-absorbed, critical and fatalistic. However, if we choose to be positive and grateful then we will become servant-hearted, thankful and hopeful. The entire trajectory of our lives can be redirected by a positive change in our attitude.

The Apostle Paul challenges us all when he declares, “rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say REJOICE!” (Phil. 4-4). Let’s make November and December a season to cultivate an attitude of gratitude!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

November/December 2018

As we begin to approach the two amazing holidays that usher out Fall and brings in Winter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I stand in awe of God. You see, for me this season causes me to be full of gratitude to the Good Lord. First, at Thanksgiving, I have the opportunity to thank God for his daily provisions: My wife, my family, my home, my church, my daily bread, my health. All these blessings come completely from our gracious, generous heavenly Father. Then, at Christmas, I have the opportunity to thank God for my eternal provisions: My salvation, my sins forgiven, my fellowship with Christ, God's Holy Spirit within me to counsel and comfort me, God's Word to guide me through life, the privilege of prayer to connect me to God's spiritual assistance, the body of Christ to encourage me, God's great commission to give my life purpose So, you see, through Thanksgiving and Christmas, God gives the opportunity to express our gratitude to him for all his provisions!

So, I have a question for you... Do you have a grateful heart? Or are you too busy reciting your list of woes to God for all that you DON'T have. I agree with Chuck Swindoll when he said that 95% of life is our attitude. So, my challenge to all of us this season is to be thankful to God for all his provisions.

Psalm 92:1-2 "It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High, to declare Your loving kindness in the morning and your faithfulness by night"

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

September/October 2018

It's Fall again and I admit it, I really look forward to this time of year. I love everything about the Fall - the cooler weather, the beautiful colors of changing leaves, football, trips to Edward's Apple Orchard, driving through the country out in Boone County, and watching farmers harvest their crops. I also like being back on a regular schedule as the school year begins. For some reason, I like the "daily grind".

Now, all of us, including Christians, have to fight the tedium and trials of everyday pressures. We can become discouraged, cynical, and even burned out if we are not careful. I love Chuck Swindoll's humorous observation that "the problem with the Christian life is that it's so daily!" So true! Maybe that is why Jesus said, "Don't worry about tomorrow; every day has enough problems of its own" (Matthew 6:34). So, I have a suggestion. Why not take an "outside break" and just look around you at the trees, bushes, green grass, fall flowers, birds, and squirrels, and look up at the blue sky, the clouds, the stars, the sunset, and feel the cool breeze and the warmth of the sun on your face. King David proclaims in Psalm 19:1-3, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day, they pour forth speech; night after night, they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard."

I suggest that you read slowly through the Psalms to understand how much God loves and takes care of you. Then, put on a sweater and just walk out into the crisp, fall air. Soak up the amazingness of God's creation. Be assured that God is there.

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

July/August 2018

Summer is a time to get away, take a break, and hopefully rest a bit. It's also a good time to refocus, recalibrate, and a time to listen to the Lord for His further instruction. He might speak to you while you study God's Word, when listening to a Christian song, in talking to a Spirit-led friend who gives you some sound advice, or during a time of silence and just listening to God. I am more and more enjoying learning the "art of waiting on God" before I begin something new in my life. I am trying to listen for God's prompting to move forward with the plan. While waiting, I continue with my preset "assignment" and when God says to "proceed", then I begin a new endeavor.

Pastor Charles Stanley shares this insight, "what we need are eyes to see and ears to hear how the Lord is leading us, as we trust Him for the future". What we need while in "God's waiting room" is patience. This will require faith in God's ability, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's prompting, wisdom to understand God's direction, and courage to move forward with God's plan for your life. Remember, life can be an exciting adventure as we live out the opportunities God wants to give us... Keep listening!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

May/June 2018

It's finally happened! We have crossed over the magical 80 degree barrier, and summer is now within reach! Time to open the windows of the house, put on your camo shorts, and lay out on your lawn chair and soak in the warm rays of the sun... finally! This is what we've been waiting for!

Now, allow me to make an analogy related to your spiritual life. Just as the warm weather brightens all of our attitudes, I wonder how much our presence warms up the atmosphere of the places we go and in the lives of the people we interact with? Do we have positive impact on the people we regularly have contact with? How do my neighbors see me? Or the check out person at my grocery store? My bank teller? My auto mechanic? my food server? My children? My children's friends? Am I a good witness for Christ in the market place or do I simply blend in the scenery? Do I radiate the love of Christ or do I do more harm than good?

Here's the really good news... We can become great ambassadors for Christ by simply changing our attitudes and becoming grateful and joyful! We can radiate the love of Jesus by simply smiling at people, asking them how they are doing, showing genuine concern, and even telling them we will pray for them. Don't quote Scripture to people unless you precede it with kindness and compassion. It has been wisely observed, "People don't care about how much you know until they know about how much you care".

So, here is your summer assignment: "Love thy neighbor"... And your neighbor is whoever you have contact with! Allow those around you to see "the Joy of the Lord" on your face and in your life. Bring the warmth of Christ's love wherever you go! And, if God opens the door, share with those you meet how much Jesus loves them and wants to be their friend! Wouldn't it be great to have some new Christ-followers to introduce to your Northridge church family later this summer?

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

March/April 2018

I have some very good news… Spring is on the way! This last winter was definitely a challenge! But, we are stronger for having gone through it. Adversity has a way of making us tougher and more prepared for future challenges ahead. Now, none of us looks forward to challenges, criticism, and struggling in our life. But, looking back, those are the times we have to rely on God the most and have developed intestinal fortitude. Right…?

When tragedy strikes our lives, or we lose our job, have a friend reject us, or have a hard time paying for groceries or our mortgages, we are tempted to say, “God, Why me?” We might even wonder if God even cares about our problems. Well, He does and He allows trials in our lives in order to help us grow spiritually. God promises us in Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Over the next few weeks we will discover together how we can advance through our adversities. We will study the book of James to discover how our pain can actually turn into our gain! Let’s allow God to train us through the school of adversity.

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

January/February 2018

As I look outside it's snowing and the temperature reads 10 degrees. Almost everyone I know has been struggling with a cold, flu, or bronchitis of late. Two weeks ago, I was under the weather too, and it felt so good to get back to good health. Well, as important as it is to be physically healthy, it's even more important to be emotionally healthy. As a matter of fact, being emotionally unhealthy often leads to physical ailments. For that reason, I would like to invest in the next two months during the Sunday messages sharing biblical insights into how to develop spiritual habits that will build you and me up to becoming more emotionally healthy.

As we begin out journey to emotional healing we all have to be honest in self-evaluation. You see, before you can determine what needs to happen to become healthy, you have to determine what needs to change in your life. In order to get healthier, whether the issue is anger, guilt, anxiety, fear, or a low self-esteem, we have to be willing to follow the instructions of our Great Physician (Jesus) found in God's Word. The results will be a true life change! So, let's begin to work together to become emotionally healthy both individually and corporately!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

November/December 2017

Wow! 2017 is quickly coming to a it's final chapter. Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching and most of us are filling up our calendars with seasonal events, which include lots of church activities with friends and family. Plus, all the presents still to buy and wrap. This time of year can be very stressful if we allow it to be. But it doesn't have to be if we focus on the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The answer is to simplify. This Thanksgiving, try focusing on just being thankful to the Lord for all his blessings, and this Christmas, try focusing on the blessing of God's Son coming to earth as the Prince of Peace... Jesus, God's greatest gift of all time!

Listen to these prophetic words by Isaiah to focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ: "For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace". Isaiah 9:6

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

September/October 2017

Most everybody knows by now that I love the Fall in the midwest. The beautiful colors, the crispness in the air, everyone back on schedule with school starting, sweater weather, football and Edwards Apple Orchard. However, even in the mist of such beauty, many people feel worn down and frustrated. The pressures of life, disappointments, health issues of loved ones and the “daily grind” can all work together to discourage you. Even Christians, sometimes, wonder if God really cares about them. Pastor and author Chuck Swindoll humorously observes, “The problem with The Christian Life is that it’s so daily.” Maybe you are feeling disconnected from God as you read this news letter.

So how do you overcome this sense of aloneness and discouragement? I’d like to share a couple of suggestions:

1. Get alone with God to hear His voice and His heart. Start with the Psalms, where David “wears his feelings on his sleeves.” and realize that God does care about you.

2. Get with God’s people, the church, and recognize that you have a community of believers who truly love and care for you, with all your doubts and imperfections.

3. Put on a sweatshirt or jacket and step outside, look up, look around, and experience the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. Let the sun touch your face, and take a walk among the fallen leaves. David shares in Psalm 19:1-4, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the earth.”

Never doubt...God is there. And He loves you completely!

Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.”

Enjoy the fall and remember, I love you very much!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

July/August 2017

In a fast-paced world, how do you slow down and find some quality time to reflect? Well, there is one culprit who is stealing most of us American's time... Know the answer?... It's our smart phone/mobile devices! In 2015, "Digital Trends", a U.S. research firm, found that most of us now spend a staggering 4.7 hours a day looking at our mobile devices! So, one obvious solution to finding more time to reflect is getting off our mobile devices. (Don't start throwing things at me now!) Seeing that we are in the midst of summer (a designated "season of rest"), allow me to ask you some questions:

1. Where was the last time you sat back and made an honest appraisal of your life? Are you on a good path? Have you slid into the traits of self-centeredness, cynicism, crassness, and greed? It's tough, but seriously consider if you are morally "centered" and living a Christ-honoring life. Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight".

2. Have you learned how to relax? I believe that stress is a killer and that we need to find a way to "stop and smell the roses". Whether it's gardening or golfing, reading or hiking, taking off on vacation or resting on the porch in your easy chair, we all need to slow down, chill out, and relax. Don't take yourself so seriously. The world will keep spinning without you being on overdrive! Matthew 11:28,"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest".

3. Are you investing some quality time each day meeting your Creator and Lord? Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar (John 4:14)," Whoever drinks the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life". Lately, have you been feeling spiritually "dried up"? Have you been going to the wrong well for refreshment? We all need to learn this one basic lesson: Nothing will ever quench your spiritual thirst except for fellowship with Jesus Christ! So, slow down and take the time to drink the living water that is found in Christ alone! Psalm 23:1-3,"The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." Think about it; Jesus never rushed anywhere!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

March/April 2017

Isn't it wonderful to know that, unlike dead braches from winter, God allows us to be reattached to the vine for nourishment? When we are cut off from God, it's of our own choosing – we detach ourselves from God. But God is gracious and allows us to come back to him to be restored and renewed! In Luke 15, Jesus shares three parables to illustrate this wonderful truth.

The first parable speaks to us about the faithful, loving shepherd who seeks out the lost sheep in order to bring them back into the fold. The parable of the lost coin describes the deliberate search of the woman for her one lost coin out of ten, and the well-known parable of the lost son shares the anguishing desire of a loving father hoping for his prodigal son to come back home.

In all three stories, Jesus describes God's extreme joy when one of his lost children becomes "reattached" to him. "I tell you," Jesus proclaims, "there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10). Think of it, when a Christian comes back to the Lord after detaching him or herself form Him, there is a party in heaven!

Perhaps today you find yourself far away from the Lord. You've somehow gotten off track through neglect in your spiritual walk, through some unconfessed sin, or through an unresolved tear in a relationship. Or, maybe you find yourself gradually drifting from the spiritual vitality that you once enjoyed. You're not yet lost, but you're slowly wandering away from the sound of the Heavenly Father's voice. Remember, if God seems far away, it is you that has moved!

The wonderful news is that God is searching for you and wants you back in the fold, safe within his company. If you desire to serve the Lord and produce spiritual fruit, it is vitally important that remain in his presence on a continual basis. And as you remain, he will bless.

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

January/February 2017

If you are like me, 2016 seemed to fly by! Maybe I didn't set aside enough days to R-E-S-T; just to soak in life itself, minus the busy agenda. Maybe I should have taken more time to read God's Word and some classic Christian books (or a fun novel). There is nothing wrong with working hard, but I believe God wants us to recreate in order to achieve balance (and to maintain sanity).

So... Here are some practical thoughts as we enter a New Year... 2017.

1. Designate some serious time to do something fun and meaningful each week that is not your normal job (such as: build a birdhouse, paint a picture of nature, write a poem or song, prepare for a 2k race, or collect some vintage collectibles for your family room).

2. Be more thoughtful about who you are and about what you do with your time. Ephesians 5:15-16 reminds us to, "be very careful then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil". Think before you act and before you lend your opinion. Gain wisdom through prayer, seeking Godly advice, personal research, and through reflection on not to repeat past mistakes.

And, 3. Be more thankful to God for all of his blessings he has bestowed on your life. God is a good, good Father. Jesus is our Savior and our Friend. The Holy Spirit is our Counselor and our Comforter. Be grateful for God's Word, God's people, God's intervention, and God's contant presence and love. Choose to be positive and to, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, REJOICE!" (Philippians 4:4).

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

November/December 2016

I always marvel at the beauty and charm of Autumn in the Midwest. The gorgeous colors of the trees, the coolness of the air, the urgency to finish your outside projects, Canadian geese flying South in their "V Formation", and making plans for Thanksgiving dinner with your family and friends. And looking ahead to the mystery and wonder of celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, at Christmas time. I think of November as a season of God's completion, when the crops that were planted in the Spring have now been harvested, bundled and brought into the storehouses for Winter's usage.

This is the time of year to be especially thankful. And gratefully, in October of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made a proclamation that (abbreviated),

"The year that is drawing toward it's close has been filled with it's blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come... No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked on these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless, remembered mercy. It seems to me fit and proper that they (our blessings) should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

Praise the Lord for President Lincoln's tremendous wisdom and foresight! Let us together invest a little extra time expressing our gratitude to our Heavenly Father during the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas season. First, for His Earthly provisions, and secondly, for His promised heavenly provisions... All made possible through the saving work of His Son, Jesus Christ!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

September/October 2016

Call me crazy, but I love September, when we all get back on track, back on schedule and yes... back to “the grind”. Kids are back in school, churches start their Fall programs, industries are back on their post-vacation schedule again, adults begin getting all their outside yard projects completed, the TV networks begin their new fall series’ again, and the National Football League straps down their helmets for it’s bone-jarring 17 week regular season schedule. And, oh yes, Farm and Fleet begins sending out reminders for their October “Early Bird Santa’s Christmas Workshop (ugh)!” Now, since September is a month of new beginnings, it’s also a time to renew earlier commitments. Maybe, somewhere between June and August, you’ve let some responsibilities slip. The right choice is to be decisive, and recommit to completing your project or commitment. Whether it’s finishing your garage “reorganization” or getting your body into shape so you can serve Jesus for the long haul effectively or completing a discipleship bible study, the time to get going again is NOW!!!!

God told him to go preach to the people of Nineveh. However, Jonah took a boat in the opposite direction! But, once Jonah was thrown overboard, God provided a very large “underwater taxi” to transport the old prophet back to his original destination! (Jonah 1:7-17 & Jonah 2:10) So, let’s all admit our shortcomings to the Lord, ask forgiveness, and seek God’s guidance on how to get started on our commitments again. You see, God wants you to succeed! Be slow, be deliberate, set realistic goals, and take the first step to your chosen destination! With God’s help, you can do it!

Ephesians 5:15-18, “Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

July/August 2016

I would like to re-tweet a concept with you that I had shared four years ago...It’s called the “Grace Matrix,” You see, God’s grace was given to all Christ-followers when Jesus died on the cross for our sins and then rose from the grave, victorious over sin and death. It is at that point we received the greatest gift ever, forgiveness of our sins and a permanent relationship with our heavenly Father. Jesus’ sacrificial act of love made this all possible! When we receive the unmerited favor of God through grace, three spiritual gifts result from God’s Holy Spirit: Gratitude, Joy, and Peace.

  1. Gratitude is the realization of how much we owe God for receiving all the blessings of our salvation. This prompts us to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” Romans 12:1
  2. Joy is the internal attitude of thankfulness for all that Christ and His Father have done for us, which manifests itself in “Gladness of Heart.” Paul reminds us” that we should all rejoice in the Lord always!” Philippians 4:4
  3. Peace is the knowledge that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,” This brings us a contentment of heart. Romans 8:28 A peace “which transcends all understanding.” Philippians 4:7

So, I urge you to live out God’s grace by manifesting His love shown to you and demonstrated to the world around you by your Gratitude, Joy and Peace!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

May/June 2016

"Life is like a box chocolates.... you never know what you're going to get".

That, of course, is the famous quote from Forrest Gump, the main character in the Oscar-winning film from 1994, where it won "Best Picture of the Year". The point Forrest was making is that we must accept whatever life puts in our path and then makes the most of the situation. That, of course, is definitely not easy to accept during difficult times in our life. A more appropriate way to approach challenging times is to hold on to the promise found in Romans 8:28, where Paul proclaims, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

In Joni Eareckson Tada's article, "Frame of Reference", She, (a quadriplegic since age 18) shares that often times life appears to be haphazard and hard to put together. But, she observes, that when we look at Jesus as our point of reference, that all the seemingly unrelated and "random" events of our lives begin to fall into place. As we piece together the Old Testament prophecies about a future Messiah, Jesus' astonishing birth, his sinless life, his brutal substitutionary death for our sins, his powerful resurrection, his commissioning of his disciples, his amazing ascension, his promise to someday return to rule along with his children, and finally, his promise of eternity in Heaven with Jesus and God the Father... Then we have an unmistakable Christ-shaped frame of reference that helps us understand the true purpose in this grand puzzle called "LIFE"!

The bottom line is this: Living for Christ's glory personally and endeavoring to be Jesus' ambassadors to people desperately in need of forgiveness, peace, and hope for their eternity - That's what makes life worth living!

Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

Mar./Apr. 2016

In Philip Yancey’s excellent book, “Finding God In Unexpected Places,” the author observes that “we tend to see what we are looking for.” In other words, we often times “pre-decide” the outcome of our search so that we are unable to see God’s presence in our surroundings. For example, a group of early Spanish sailors who had reached South America after a difficult voyage brought their sailing ship into the headwaters of the Amazon River. But, it was so wide, that the sailors assumed it was a continuation of the Atlantic ocean. It never occurred to them that they could drink the water, since they expected that it was saltwater, and as a result, many sailors died of thirst. But, in reality, their ship was floating on the world’s largest source of fresh-water! The sailors didn’t have to die, but they didn’t take advantage of the resources that God had made available to them.

The point is that God is creating opportunities for us and he is making His resources available to us all the time. However, we frequently fail to take advantage of all that God has to offer us, because we are not listening to His voice and we are not looking for the clues that God has left for us; clues that would make our lives much more meaningful. Perhaps it’s time for us to listen more carefully to the Lord’s “Still, Small Voice,” the one you can only hear when you intentionally seek him. The answer for what you should do with your life and how God will provide for your needs might be closer to you than you think!

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

Jan./Feb. 2016

If you are like me, entering a new year has a sense of mystery to it; it is the factor of the unknown that causes us to be a little unnerved with what may lie ahead. But, we need to keep in mind that it is more important to keep our eyes focused on our all-powerful God than any difficult challenges that we will experience in 2016.

My hope for all of us is that we will invest the time and effort to grow closer to Jesus during the next twelve months. The best ways to do this is to talk to God (Matthew 6:6-13) through prayer and by learning to understand Him by studying God’s word (2 Timothy 3:14-17). There is nothing more important than staying close to the Lord so that you can hear His voice clearly. As you listen to Him, He will give you instructions as to whom you should talk to and what you should do to bring others closer to experiencing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As Christ’s witnesses (Acts 1:6-8) and His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:17-20), all Christ followers are given the responsibility to glorify God with both our words and our actions (Colossians 3:17).

There is no doubt that 2016 will be full of surprises and challenges. But, hold on to this truth, God is Faithful, and He will be there to help you through any challenging circumstances! He will make you strong (Isaiah 40:28-31)!

"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:31

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

Nov./Dec. 2015

Living in the Midwest all of my life and in talking to lots of people, almost universally, people love the fall here in the Winnebago and Boone county area. Obviously, the fall colors, football season, Edwards Apple Orchard and Thanksgiving are at the top of the list for things we love. But, I really think there is an underlying, very important reason that people also love fall in the Midwest; I call it “A season of preparation”. Fall is a time for bundling up, raking up, gathering in, closing things up, and preparing for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, and for the inevitable cold winter ahead. The season of fall has purpose and deadlines, and this creates a sense of excitement and of challenge. And, most of us love the intrigue of thinking, “can I get all my tasks done in time?”

I believe that God expects for us to work and be responsible; and this gives us a sense of accomplishment. God also wants us to be prepared for what’s ahead so we don’t end up not having things in order for the next phase of our lives. So, as you begin to continue your fall projects to prepare for the busy, cold days ahead, thank God that you can work and can enjoy the progress you have made. Oh, and take in all the beauty of God’s amazing creation while you are at it!

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

Sept./Oct. 2015

It's inevitable and it's necessary; yet most of us resist it...that's change. We don't like it, we're afraid of it. But, change is linked to progress. And like it or not, change is going to happen.

In Luke 5:33-39, we see Jesus being chastised by the law-driven Pharisees for breaking the "rules" of fasting and abstaining. They didn't like that Jesus was changing the rules. Jesus responded by saying,...."No one pours wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, the new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for He says, the old is the better than the new.

We all tend to get contented with the "old wineskins" of what is familiar. However, we in the church must be willing to try new approaches if we are going to be effective in impacting nonbelievers with the amazing message of freedom, forgiveness, and purpose through having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to use new methods of reaching people for Christ, whether through skateboarding, small groups, Christian films, retreats, or one-on-one evangelism. Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, "I have become all things to all men (and women) so that by all possible means I might save some."

I love you all very much!
Pastor Jeff Honson

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…”
– Matthew 11:28-30