May 2023 Newsletter
by Pastor Mike Novotny
If there is one message today’s culture loves to push most, it might be this:
“Just be yourself!”
In the smash hit Frozen, Elsa had to learn to be herself, discarding the “conceal” message her parents had instilled in her as a child and harnessing her unique powers for the good of her kingdom.
In the smash hit Coco, young Miguel had to break out of the “make shoes” message of his parents and learn to be himself, a music-loving Mexican singer who brought joy to his village.
In the smash hit Encanto, Mirabel needed an epiphany to see the value that she brought to her family, despite her lack of standout talent.
How does God feel about this message to “be yourself”? After reading the Bible, I would say that God cautiously loves it.
We see God’s love for our uniqueness in Paul’s masterful analogy of the human body: “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Corinthians 12:18). Just as God wants elbows to be elbows and eyeballs to be eyeballs, so also God wants you to be you. You and I may be part of the same Christian “body,” but we are not the same parts.
Of course, we must exercise caution, since “be you” might lead you to embrace your sinful desires or fail to serve others. But the big idea that we are unique and made for a unique purpose is wonderfully biblical.
That begs the biblical question—Who are you?
I’ve come to realize that I can read faster, write more clearly, and speak more easily than the average person. For me, “be you” looks like investing as much of my time into these God-given talents so that more people can get connected to Jesus.
And you? Are you wired for emotion, compassion, and comforting people through hard times? Or for the clarity to know what to do and the courage to take that first step as a leader? Do you have ability to come up with fresh ideas? Or a thorough mind that can evaluate the ideas of others? Or the ability to see the people whom others overlook?
I don’t know exactly how God made you, but I do know that God made you to be you…for him.
Because when you are the you God created you to be for him, you’ll be the best you possible.
Amazing friends like you are the reason so many people are connecting to Jesus through Time of Grace resources like devotions, podcasts, videos, and TV programs. Your incredible partnership and faithful prayers make notes like this possible. Take a look:
“We are enjoying the TV program on Sunday morning. I have been trying to get my husband back to church, and he has really enjoyed this program. I think he was inspired by your program to return to church on a regular basis. Thank you so much.”—Susan
And thank you for partnering with us to change lives through God’s grace!
Give your soul the care it needs!
There’s a lot of talk these days about self-care. And while taking time to rest and rejuvenate your mind and body is important, nothing matters more to your health than soul care. That’s why we want to send you a special resource from Time of Grace author and podcaster Amber Albee Swenson called Soul Care: Nurturing Your Spiritual Wellness.
This insightful book provides practical, biblical wisdom to help you find lasting peace, rest, and joy as you allow Jesus to nurture your spiritual well-being.
Like your mind and body, your soul has needs, and they can only be met as you walk hand in hand with your Savior. So request your copy when you give today to help share God’s Word and the love of Christ with others through Time of Grace.
$155,000 Challenge Grant this month!
Some friends of Time of Grace are so encouraged by what God is doing through this ministry that they’ve offered a $155,000 grant to multiply that impact in people’s lives…and they’re challenging you to match their generosity. When you give on the enclosed reply card today, you’ll help:
- Equip mature believers to grow in their faith.
- Encourage new believers with the truth of God’s Word.
- Invite unbelievers to find everything they’re searching for in Jesus.
Thank you for giving today to match the Challenge Grant in full and help more people find everything they need in Jesus!
Six-part series starting in June: What’s the Point? It can be hard to see purpose through the daily grind and struggle, leading us to wonder if God is even present in our lives. Yet through the book of Esther—a book of the Bible that doesn’t even mention God’s name—Pastor Mike teaches us the powerful truth of how God is working in our lives and giving us purpose, even if we can’t see it yet. Watch on TV or online!
The first episode of What’s the Point? is available to watch on June 4th with new episodes released each Sunday in June.
Q&A with Pastor Mike Novotny
Question: What’s the difference between biblical self-care and the world’s messages of self-care?
Pastor Mike: The biblical message of self-care makes sure that self-care is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Why do I value sleeping eight solid hours? So I can pour myself into others in sacrificial love. Why is working a reasonable number of hours (most weeks) so important? So I have the stamina to run the marathon of loving my parents, family, and neighbors. Why take time to eat healthy meals and move my body? So my mind and my mood are prepared to love others with patience, kindness, and gentleness.
Self-care is not the end goal. It’s the means to the end of serving others in Jesus’ name.
“Mike, I wish I could have heard that sermon years ago. It might have saved me a heart attack.”
Those were the words of a former pastor who told me the story of the week when he worked one hundred hours at his church…and then had a heart attack. (Thankfully, he lived to tell the story!)
There is a biblical middle ground between caring too much about your body and caring too little about your body. That’s why I love to think about “running the race” of faith as opposed to walking it or sprinting it.
As a four-time marathon runner, I know the goal is not to sprint from the start, nor is it to walk just so I don’t get too tired. Rather, the goal is to find a sustainable pace that gets me to the finish as fast as I can.
If you’re like many Christians I know in our busy, rushed, always-playing-catch-up culture, you might be pushing an unsustainable pace, one that leaves you more stressed than blessed. If so, you have God’s permission to slow down. He won’t be mad. I promise.
Build enough sleep, proper nutrition, and plenty of exercise into your schedule along with some time to “sabbath” and step away from the crowds. “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). You can do that too.
And with your body ready to serve, step out into your world and take time to love people well. Listen to their struggles without running to the next commitment. Take time to lend a hand or pray for them.
Your self-care will enable you to “run” and selflessly care for others.