Rex Hamilton

One Leader-One Way


If you travelled the country and asked random people, “who said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’?” you would probably get the correct answer from all kinds of people. Christians...Agnostics...Muslims...Hindus....Mormons and even Atheists. Jesus is a renown teacher who’s words reach far beyond our Christian circles.

I’m certain that along with finding people who are familiar with many of Jesus’s words, you’d also hear many people have only heard this teaching in the context of “if you want to get to Heaven, you can only get there through a personal relationship with Jesus."..."Otherwise, you’re wrong, lost and hell bound!".

Do I believe that it’s only through Jesus that we have eternal life with the Father? Yes! But is this the only way in which we should understand Jesus’s famous words found in John 14? No!

The reason I know this? Look at the audience to whom Jesus is saying “I am the way, the truth and the life...”. The disciples. His already committed followers. Should Jesus’s words be understood in both a ‘today’ and ‘eternity’ context? I think so.

Jesus isn’t just our one way ticket to Heaven; he’s our way, truth and life in everything we are and do today. The big question can we fully realize his way, his truth and his life for our everyday kind of living?

I hope you’ll join us this Sunday as we seek to find out!

Grace and Peace.

Pastor Rex

The Runaway


Ask people what they must do to get to return to God and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer. All we must do is cry, “Help!” God welcomes home anyone who will have him and, in fact, has made the first move already. Below is a modern day telling of the Prodigal Son from the great book, "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Phillip Yancey. May we all have a sense of wonder and awe as we think about the impact Grace has had on our lives!


A young girl grows up on a cherry orchard just above Traverse City, Michigan. Her parents, a bit old-fashioned, tend to overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, and the length of her skirts. They ground her a few times, and she seethes inside. “I hate you!” she screams at her father when he knocks on the door of her room after an argument, and that night she acts on a plan she has mentally rehearsed scores of times. She runs away.

She has visited Detroit only once before, on a bus trip with her church youth group to watch the Tigers play. Because newspapers in Traverse City report in lurid detail the gangs, drugs, and violence in downtown Detroit, she concludes that is probably the last place her parents will look for her. California, maybe, or Florida, but not Detroit.

Her second day there she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. He offers her a ride, buys her lunch, arranges a place for her to stay. He gives her some pills that make her feel better than she’s ever felt before. She was right all along, she decides: Her parents were keeping her from all the fun.

The good life continues for a month, two months, a year. The man with the big car—she calls him “Boss”–teaches her a few things that men like. Since she’s underage, men pay a premium for her. She lives in a penthouse and orders room service whenever she wants. Occasionally she thinks about the folks back home, but their lives now seem so boring that she can hardly believe she grew up there. She has a brief scare when she sees her picture printed on the back of a milk carton with the headline, “Have you seen this child?” But by now she has blond hair, and with all the makeup and body-piercing jewelry she wears, nobody would mistake her for a child. Besides, most of her friends are runaways, and nobody squeals in Detroit.

After a year, the first sallow signs of illness appear, and it amazes her how fast the boss turns mean. “These days, we can’t mess around,” he growls, and before she knows it she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, but they don’t pay much, and all the money goes to support her drug habit. When winter blows in she finds herself sleeping on metal grates outside the big department stores. “Sleeping” is the wrong word—a teenage girl at night in downtown Detroit can never relax her guard. Dark bands circle her eyes. Her cough worsens.

One night, as she lies awake listening for footsteps, all of a sudden everything about her life looks different. She no longer feels like a woman of the world. She feels like a little girl, lost in a cold and frightening city. She begins to whimper. Her pockets are empty and she’s hungry. She needs a fix. She pulls her legs tight underneath her and shivers under the newspapers she’s piled atop her coat. Something jolts a synapse of memory and a single image fills her mind: of May in Traverse City, when a million cherry trees bloom at once, with her golden retriever dashing through the rows and rows of blossomy trees in chase of a tennis ball.

God, why did I leave? she says to herself, and pain stabs at her heart. My dog back home eats better than I do now. She’s sobbing, and she knows in a flash that more than anything else in the world she wants to go home.

Three straight phone calls, three straight connections with the answering machine. She hangs up without leaving a message the first two times, but the third time she says, “Dad, Mom, it’s me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, well, I guess I’ll just stay on the bus until it hits Canada.”

It takes about seven hours for a bus to make all the stops between Detroit and Traverse City, and during that time she realizes the flaws in her plan. What if her parents are out of town and miss the message? Shouldn’t she have waited another day or so until she could talk to them? Even if they are home, they probably wrote her off as dead long ago. She should have given them some time to overcome the shock.

Her thoughts bounce back and forth between those worries and the speech she is preparing for her father. “Dad, I’m sorry. I know I was wrong. It’s not your fault, it’s all mine. Dad, can you forgive me?” She says the words over and over, her throat tightening even as she rehearses them. She hasn’t apologized to anyone in years.

The bus has been driving with lights on since Bay City. Tiny snowflakes hit the road, and the asphalt steams. She’s forgotten how dark it gets at night out here. A deer darts across the road and the bus swerves. Every so often, a billboard. A sign posting the mileage to Traverse City. Oh, God.

When the bus finally rolls into the station, its air brakes hissing in protest, the driver announces in a crackly voice over the microphone, “Fifteen minutes, folks. That’s all we have here.” Fifteen minutes to decide her life. She checks herself in a compact mirror, smooths her hair, and licks the lipstick off her teeth. She looks at the tobacco stains on her fingertips and wonders if her parents will notice. If they’re there.

She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect, and not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepare her for what she sees. There, in the concrete-walls-and-plastic-chairs bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of 40 family members—brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and great-grandmother to boot. They are all wearing ridiculous-looking party hats and blowing noisemakers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads “Welcome home!”

Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She looks through tears and begins the memorized speech, “Dad, I’m sorry. I know … “

He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. You’ll be late for the party. A banquet’s waiting for you at home.”


The High Value of Wisdom


For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can compare with it. Proverbs 8:11

Think about those words written by Solomon thousands of years ago. Really let yourself sit with this proverb.

“Nothing you desire can compare with it...”

What are some things we desire that some how end up having higher value, than wisdom? Money? Job title? Success of our kids? Educational degrees?

It’s easy to go through our week and not intentionally think about our need for wisdom. Maybe the reasons why is we tend to lean on our experience or smarts. Both play a role yet, neither are enough by themselves. Wisdom is the meshing of our intelligence, experience and connection with God all wrapped in one.

The two most common questions I’ve heard regarding wisdom are:

1. Isn’t wisdom just doing what the Bible says?

2. How does one attain wisdom?

The first answer is no. No, because not all circumstances we face in life are specifically dealt with in the Bible. Wisdom must go beyond knowing and doing the Word of God (although this is always the starting point). God’s wisdom also includes a sensitive and mature judgement where and how a situation needs to be worked out when the Bible isn’t clear on what we are to do.

The second is simple. ASK!  Scripture tells us that if anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God and he will give it generously (James 1:5). This is a promise, friends!

Placing a high value on wisdom isn’t easy, but how much richer, happier and healthier our lives are when we seek wisdom and apply it. Let’s all give it a try this week. I doubt any of us will regret it!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rex

Family On Wire


The 2008 award winning documentary, Man On Wire tells the true story of Philippe Petit and his seemingly impossible (and very illegal) attempt in 1974 to walk a high-wire between the tops of the World Trade Center. It’s a fascinating look at a man’s courageous attempt to try the impossible!


I remember the feelings I experienced when first watching the film. Tense...anxious...and by the time the movie ended...exhausted! I do a good job of making you want to run out and watch the movie, don’t I?  You’re welcome. 

I thought about Petit’s story while reflecting on my weekend sermon [You can watch it HERE] where I talked about finding balance in our ever busy lives. In my message, I briefly told the story of how I had recently found myself screaming in my car because the busyness of life had just felt like it was becoming too much. In case you’re wondering...yes, the temporary onset of rage helped, but not recommended to try at home, or at your workplace.

Tenseness, anxiety, burdened and exhausted was how I was feeling that morning in my car after several weeks of work, coaching baseball, homework and every other calendar demand that seemed to be pulling at me. That’s what happens to us when life begins to feel like a balancing act on a high-wire. Where you have so much going on in your day that one mis-step makes you feel like your day will crumble, or worse, you feel like you’ll let your family down.

Jesus knew something about being busy, meeting the needs of others and trying to find some time for himself. In all the madness of his busyness, Jesus always managed to stay on course and honor the Father with his life’s mission. And that should be our goal, too. To honor God with our daily living while not getting lost in the chaos of our calendars!

Of course, we’re never going to be perfect at this. We’ll have our moments of insanity where we find ourselves screaming in cars. (Or maybe that’s just me...)

Grace. Lots of grace, friends. And patience. Be patient with yourselves and your family. Life does feel like a high-wire act at times, but be patient as a family and remember that no one can ever be "all things to all people".

Are you currently feeling overwhelmed by busyness? Like your calendar has become your master? Like everyday is a balancing act on a tightrope? Remember this promise from Jesus today.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Grace and Peace.

Pastor Rex

Learning To Love (and Like) Crazy Uncle Eddie


Central to Jesus’ teachings is the message that we are to love others. In fact, he says in John 15 that his very commandment is to love each other the way that he has loved us. Love. At first glance, we might think, “No problem. I love people!” But his word for love has a much deeper meaning than what our society often understands, embraces, and practices. The word for love here is “Agape”. It simply means that we will fully love others in ways that show sacrifice and humility. Remember when Jesus washed his disciples feet? That was agape love. If we believe Jesus died on the cross for us, then we essentially have accepted his agape love. Even when we did nothing to deserve this kind of love. When it comes to family, most parents understand and practice agape love to their kids all the time. They understand the sacrifice of putting the needs of their children before their own. That explains why we, parents of young children, often look tired and haggard walking into church!screen-shot-2015-12-13-at-2-13-20-pm-1 But what about our crazy Uncle Eddie? You know...the people in our family who not only are difficult to love, but to LIKE?!? What about these people? How do we show agape to them when we’d rather not be in the same room with them? Frankly, there is never an easy answer this..

Rather than try and provide solutions, I thought I’d offer a couple insights that are worth remembering when we are having a hard time loving (or even liking) difficult family members:

  1. It’s worth remembering that Jesus showed agape to others when they had done nothing to earn it, or even deserve it. Are we making anyone in our family feel that they have to earn our love and acceptance?
  1. When Jesus displayed agape to others it was also a way of showing his respect to them. Despite some family being hard to love, are you respecting them? Do you shame them behind their back? Do you disrespect them in front of other family members?
  1. Remember, that to someone, somewhere we are probably difficult to love, too. It’s never just about others and not about us. We need grace just as much as crazy Uncle Eddie!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rex

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Living Your Unique, Creative, Beautiful and Jesus Centered Identity


Last week the music world was shocked to hear about the sudden death of the astoundingly creative musician, Prince. Prince was a pop music icon who in the 1980’s and 90’s sold millions of albums and influenced music forever. It didn’t take long for many other music stars to begin honoring Prince in their concerts by covering one of his songs. Usually, his most famous song, Purple Rain...

Watching these talented people pay tribute to one of their heroes is really cool, but it makes me miss a talent like Prince even more as I realize his music and creative ability just can’t be replaced. He was that good!

1424679603933Prince had a unique identity and look about him as well. Creative. Unabashed. Colorful. Enigmatic. His identity, like his talent, cannot be replaced or even copied. One of the reasons people will miss him so much is because he made the very most of his talent and creativeness. He made the most of his unique identity.

The Bible teaches us that everyone who receives Christ becomes a new creation. In essence, Jesus gives us a new identity wrapped in the beauty and grace of all that he is. The challenge, of course is to live in this world and not be captivated by it in such a way that we fail to remember our new identity in Jesus is made to be lived to the fullest. We are called to authentically and vigorously live our unique, creative, beautiful and Jesus centered lives in such a way that when we one day leave this earth, others will say of us...there can be no other (fill in your name)!

What kind of impact is your Christ-born identity making today in your world as a mom, a dad, a coach, an employer, a co-worker, a neighbor, or a friend? What legacy are we leaving this world? Know today that God has great purpose for you and your identity as a follower of Jesus is to show this world the kind of loving, good, gracious and powerful God He really is. Now, go and live your identity with vigor!


Grace and Peace.

Pastor Rex

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God Isn’t Your Meal Ticket


I remember well being a teenager and constantly coming to one of my parents to ask for something. Did I ask for things like hugs and affection? Ummm, no, I was way too cool for that! Did I ask for advice? Sometimes...but remember, I was a teen and teens know everything! Now, my 40 year old self wishes I had asked for more. Did I ask for the car keys, gas money, new school clothes, new baseball gear and food? Oh, you bet I did! More times than I can even remember... Too often, I would forget my parents loved me unconditionally and desired to have a genuine relationship with me and instead, I saw them as my meal ticket. What’s a meal ticket, you ask? According the Webster’s, it means “a person or thing that is depended upon for money, success, etc...”.

04c1e9a5f439adcb05ebac726a42de3fNotice there is no hint of any kind of relationship in that definition. In fact, it sort of puts a bad taste in my mouth when I think of looking at someone in that light.

In the Bible there are two pinnacle moments where people fail to see the loving, relational, father-God and instead see Him as their meal ticket God. The first takes place in Exodus 16 where the Israelites are in the desert and they are hungry. God sends manna (bread) down from Heaven to feed them and they fail to see that this is more than just food. It is God extending himself down to them in a relational way.

The second is found in John 6 where Jesus is teaching a hungry crowd of followers and miraculously provides bread for the multitudes. Again...the people fail to see what is happening. They saw Jesus as their meal ticket and not as the one sent by God to satisfy their spiritual hunger.

It’s surprisingly easy to do...approaching God as some cosmic meal ticket who’s mere existence is to bring us success, or just provide for us the things we really want. The truth is, God does care about our success and desires. When the people of Israel were hungry in the desert, God cared. When Jesus fed the 5,000, it was done with great compassion and care. But to limit Jesus to just being there when we need something, or to bless our endeavors, is to completely miss the life and relationship he pursues us to experience.

You see, God is annoyingly relational! He will never stop pursuing you. He loves you and calls you by name. He is a good father who offers us a greater, fuller and richer life than we could ever have on our own.

The question is...will you embrace this life that God offers? Or will you simply exist by keeping Him at a distance? Remember Jesus’ words: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry...

Grace and Peace. Pastor Rex

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Like A Bull In A China Shop


I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “like a bull in a china shop”. It essentially means being clumsily destructive. Or, causing damage without the intention of doing so... This past week, we took time to look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:5 where he says that God blesses those who are meek. Meek. What an interesting word! What could it possibly mean and why was it so important that Jesus talks about it in his Sermon on the Mount?

The best way I can summarize the word “meek” is to say its the culmination of having humility, gentleness and self-control WHILE knowing that I also have my sinful nature which can be very destructive to both myself and others. In other words...we are very much like the bull living in a world full of value, beauty and fragility (the china shop).

179171741_295x166This life of meekness that Jesus teaches is not easily attained, nor are we born with it. It comes from our willingness to humbly submit ourselves to God’s authority and say yes to the ways of Jesus. Easier said, than done, right? I’m with you! But thankfully, we have something called grace on our side. When the bull in us decides to romp around the china shop leaving a wake of bad choices, hurtful actions and one big mess; we have God’s grace to lean on. Where would we be without the God’s grace and mercy?

This week, let’s seek to allow the Holy Spirit to produce within us humility, gentleness and self-control as we learn to live for Jesus, knowing the bull within us is always there. May our prayer today be: “Jesus, I humbly surrender my entire self to you and your authority. Help me to live a meek life today and to experience a greater blessing from the father”.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rex

When Grief is Good


“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” - Jesus Mourning...Sadness...Grief. Feelings every human being will experience on some level in their lifetime. Life has its ways of giving us opportunities to grieve a loss. Yet, no one is really ever an expert in mourning. There are therapists, books and online resources that help guide us through the long journey of grief, but never are we experts.


Jesus’ promise to us is that when we find ourselves mourning, we are blessed with God’s approval and we will know His comfort. But how exactly does God comfort? After all, He doesn’t just show up and give us hugs like a friend would do. No, God comforts us by instilling joy deep within our hearts. David understood this when he wrote, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5).

Do you find yourself grieving today? Deeply saddened by a loss that hurts you to your very core? Allow me the opportunity to offer a couple thoughts on how we might experience God’s comfort and ultimately see that grief can be good.

  • Grief is good when we invite others into our grieving. The temptation is to want to be alone and to just “get through this”. The danger in isolating ourselves is when we don’t have someone to talk with, we often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms. Grieving with others fights the pull to avoid feelings and hurts.
  • Grief is good in that it reveals to us just how much we loved. When we grieve the loss of someone close to us, we can use that powerful sadness to show us just how much we opened ourselves to the person in love. It tells us that we’re capable of possessing powerful feelings of love for another person and that love brought us immense joy. Therein lies the comfort that God offers us when we mourn...the opportunity to know how deep our love was and the joy we knew and will continue to know because of our time with them.

God is a good Father who will not abandon us when we mourn. In fact, I’m confident today that you will discover Him to be closer to you now, than ever before!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Rex

Why I love watching Fixer Upper


My wife, Christalle, and I love watching a show on HGTV called, “Fixer Upper”. It’s one of those, ‘buy a crummy house, remodel it with trendy design elements and then see how much it’s worth at the end’ kind of shows. But what makes Fixer Upper different from all the others is the couple who handles the building and design...Chip and Joanna Gaines. screen-shot-2014-12-30-at-3.31.10-pm

Chip and Joanne live in Waco, Texas. They have a 4 kids and LOVE Jesus. Chip and Joanna each have a unique ability to look at an old broken down house and see its true value.

I’ve always been impressed with people who can take something so messy, torn and broken and say, “imagine the possibilities with this...there is so much value here!” Do you know anyone like this? They’re amazing, aren’t they!?


What’s even more amazing about talent like this is the one who gave it to them, the perfect authority on seeing through brokenness and finding purpose and value. God the Father knows us inside and out as all our brokenness lays bare before Him each and every day and He refuses to give up on our purpose and value!

This past Sunday, we explored Jesus’s words as he said, “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. We talked about how being poor in spirit means to recognize our brokenness and absolute need for God and that when we come to Him in that condition he blesses us, or rather, gives us His approval.

These blessings that Jesus speaks of aren’t because of anything we’ve achieved. They are directly tied to His mercy toward us and when we seek to drop the act and just be real before God, we can enter into a life of new happiness and joy despite living our messy and imperfect lives.

God is so good to us. He loves us. He’s for us. He wants to bless us.

Grace and Peace. Pastor Rex

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