November 2023 Newsletter
by Pastor Mike Novotny
Are you familiar with the concept of neuroplasticity? It’s the idea that your brain can change, rewiring itself into new patterns of thinking. I’ll spare you the scientific details, but the basic idea is that your mind is like wet cement. Your thoughts today will shape how you think tomorrow, for better or for worse.
This is great news for those of us who are committed to spiritual growth!
You see, God’s Word teaches us to “give thanks in all circumstances” and to “do everything without grumbling” (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Philippians 2:14). That is life-giving guidance from God, because being grateful is better for your mental health, better for those who hear the words you speak, and better for your relationship with God.
Being the grouchy old man who grumbles about everything isn’t good for anyone. But negativity is all too natural. Since Adam and Eve took that fateful bite, there’s always been something to grumble about. The job God didn’t give. The aches God didn’t remove. The perfect family you don’t have.
But you don’t have to live in a garbage can and become known as the church grouch. You can, day by day, start to train your brain to be grateful.
Look around and count your blessings, noticing something good in your life that billions of people lack. A warm bed? A hot shower? The cool breeze of your car’s AC? A Bible in your native language? The gospel that you’ve known for years? The Jesus who is by your side during your hardest moments?
Imagine life today without these blessings (seriously ponder that); then thank God for giving you more than you deserve. Because of neuroplasticity, your brain will become a construction zone, tearing up old, cracked roads and paving a smooth street toward gratitude.
Jesus will be patient with you. His cross has the power to highlight and delete every grumbled word and complaint-filled day. And his Spirit is present to help you take your thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.
A grateful life is a good life. I pray that we, together, can retrain our brains to remember that “the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
When you’re in a season of stress and anxiety, it’s nice to get encouragement from a friend, isn’t it? And it’s even nicer when that friend offers you the assurances found in God’s Word. That’s why we’re so thankful for friends like you who help reach people right where they are, no matter what they’re going through.
You help share God’s Word and promises with people like Audrey—who’s so thankful for the opportunity to hear about God’s goodness when she’s struggling.
I can’t begin to tell you how blessed I have been from Pastor Mike’s teaching on anxiety. I work in a very high profile, high stress job, and I get so anxious as it is so much bigger than me. Thank you, Pastor Mike, for taking time to walk through what God says…. It’s with thanksgiving that we reflect on God’s Word and His goodness.
Thank you for your support to help reach people like Audrey with God’s love and grace. We’re grateful for you!
Build up your spiritual muscles with this daily habit!
Stressed? Rejoicing? Confused? Grateful?
Start building the daily habit of seeking God and leaning on his strength with Closer to God Each Day: 365 Daily Devotions.
This inspiring daily devotional makes it easy to seek God each day so you can experience more of his power and wisdom in your life.
Filled with beautiful Scripture passages, practical wisdom, insightful teaching, and real-life application, Closer to God Each Day will keep you anchored in Jesus so you can enjoy the full life he alone provides.
It only takes a few moments to transform your day…and daily time in God’s Word can transform your life!
Closer to God Each Day comes as our thanks for your gift to help encourage more people with God’s Word through Time of Grace.
So request yours on the enclosed reply card—and thank you for your generous support!
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Coming up on Time of Grace
Tune in to Time of Grace in December for Pastor Mike’s new series: Is Christ in Your Christmas Carols? Christmas is a time when music is everywhere (and we notice it). While Jesus’ birth might have been a silent night, it hasn’t been so recently. Yet Christmas music often offers us much more than nostalgia and fuzzy feelings; in its lyrics we find a God so good that he came down from glory, took on human flesh, and lived as Immanuel—God with us.
The first episode of Is Christ in Your Christmas Carols? is available to watch on December 10 with new episodes released each Sunday in December.
Something extra from Pastor Mike
Now and then a sermon ends up blessing people in bigger ways than I ever expected. My church family was studying Ephesians 1:3-14, where the apostle Paul gushes about God’s goodness in choosing us, redeeming us, adopting us, predestining us, saving us, and so much more.
Though our English Bibles break this section into sentences, in Paul’s Greek, this is really one super-long sentence, and it’s full of the spiritual blessings that you and I already have—given to us by God through Jesus.
We are chosen, holy, blameless, predestined, adopted, graced, redeemed, forgiven, included, saved, marked, Spirit-filled, heirs, God’s possessions.
Moved by Paul’s words, some parents from my church recently sent me pictures of their daughters’ new bedroom art, which daily declared their identity in Christ: “I am chosen, redeemed, adopted, saved…” Others reached out to share just how deeply Paul’s list of blessings touched their hearts.
I know you’re busy, but please don’t miss this amazing list of God’s gifts to YOU. Write it down, tape it to your mirror, put it on your fridge, use it as your phone’s wallpaper.
When gratitude feels almost impossible, don’t forget to dial 5-1-1.
There are moments, often around the holidays, when life is just too much. The brokenness of your family and your body is the polar opposite of the cheery, merry, happy holidays everyone else seems to be having.
That’s when you need to dial 5-1-1.
Romans chapter 5, James chapter 1, and 1 Peter chapter 1 are some of the Bible’s best sources of help when you are losing all hope. When your sadness and lament are turning into a bitter, grumbling spirit, dial 5-1-1 and remember just how good it is to be a child of God.
At Time of Grace, we love celebrating the joyful moments of the Christian life, but we don’t want to dismiss the importance of biblical lament (after all, the Bible has an entire book called Lamentations). That’s why we produce resources to help you glorify God on your best days and to cling tightly to Jesus on your worst.
Thank you for your partnership to make that impact possible. Your financial support has helped reach so many people with the gospel of forgiveness and hope.
I hope you are in a wonderful season of life. But even if you aren’t, there is hope. You can dial 5-1-1. You can run to the God “who gives generously to all without finding fault” (James 1:5).