Monthly Archives: September 2016

1 Win is Worth 100 Losses

5366637592_0a193a8fcf_bWin is Worth 100 Losses…Spoken like a true Bills fan.  But there are times in ministry where people fall, deny the truth, or just decide to quit…but I have to remember the victories.  That’s what we have to do, find the victories even among the failures – The spilled milk isn’t what matters…it’s your reaction to it.  The job loss that results in a new dependence on God.  The high school decision that your future self will thank you.

But there is a victory that is greater than all of these, and Jesus does a much better job of bringing the point home in Luke 15:8-10 – READ

Little Background here…

  • Those 10 coins would come as a headband. This was equivalent to a wedding ring of today.  So ladies – you could see why this woman was so desperate to find the coin. 
  • 10 Coins – likely represented all she had – 1/10 of her savings was lost!
  • Another thing – Palestinian homes didn’t typically have LED lighting – in fact, most were quite dark with wooden floorboards where the coin could have easily been lost.

Why would I share this background information?  Well it gives us better understanding of this parable, and the themes within the story.  The overall theme of this parable, and the one before and after it…is the love of the Father searching and finding the Lost.  Here’s what we learn from this passage…

In the Dark…Just as the woman searched in a dark home for the lost coin.  God is searching through a dark world for those that are lost.  They are searching for hope in darkness.  God is the light they need in the dark world.

What was missing?  Part of the BRIDE was missing.  Jesus calls the church His what? (Bride)  This may be a stretch of an application, but we learn two things here:

  1. Christ wants to search for those who could be called His bride
  2. The church should be looking – If this woman told you she lost her coin – would you say “tough luck”? Would you be too busy to help (as we talked about last week)?  Would you be so unloving not to care?

Today, it’s not a coin.  IT’S PEOPLE!  People that can discover what it means to be loved by their Heavenly Father.  You can help them be found by the FATHER!

One Coin?  Not only was it just one coin, but some commentaries say the coin was just worth a day’s wages.  Plus this lady had 9 other coins.  Why search?  Compared to God, we are just little specks on this planet.  We may have several hundred Facebook friends…but there are 7.4 billion people on this planet.  We are just one of many…why would God search for us?  Shows God cares – Psalm 103:8-14 – This is the God we see in Luke 15.  A compassionate, loving, and merciful God – who SEARCHES for lost sinners!

God is not a passive God.  Look at the woman He is compared to…look at all she does to search for the coin.  She gets a light, she sweeps the place, and she diligently searches high and low…she is not going to give up…and neither does God.  2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God is not willing that any should perish…He wants all that are lost to be found.

The reaction – Do you have the reaction of this woman?  Well, do you?  You have found new life!  You have found forgiveness, hope, & peace – will you go to your friends and neighbors and share it and say…Look what I FOUND!  We search harder for the remote control that we do for lost souls…SHAME ON US!

Look at the joy over “1 sinner who repents”I enjoy watching football.  Well, the NFL season hasn’t started yet, so I can still say that.  But if your team is bad, the NFL draft provides you with fleeting hope…that the guy you get on your team will be the answer.  They MUST have a special talent, and your team is saying – we want them to be part of our team.  On TV – after the team picks the player, they show the guys in upper management…guys in suits giving each other high fives, fist pumping, and cheering…for a game…a game!

Imagine those truly in “upper management”…the angels of God…imagine their excitement over someone joining their team…FOREVER SAVED!  It might go something like this…

RonDiCianni-HeavensBalcony“Hey Gabriel, get over here…look…it’s happening over here in China…a little girl, that’s it and AMEN….YES, she just got saved!  Michael look down there in South Africa…a couple just trusted in our Savior…Wahoo!  Oh…look over there in Columbus, Ohio…a neighbor praying with one of ours…How we celebrating tonight…shooting stars…lightning storm…100,000 angel choir…PARTY FOR THOSE SAVED FOR ETERNITY…YES!!!

Do we have this reaction?

Here is the Model of Evangelism.  Desperate search for the lost and bring them to their proper place – in God’s family – in the safety of the Father’s armsDo we search with desperation?  Do we search?  Do we care?  Do we believe others are worth saving?  The woman didn’t say – “Oh well, lost a coin…I got 9 more…I’m safe.”  We can’t live our lives this way…instead…living each day hoping, praying, and witnessing towards ONE MORE.

My wife is an incredible party planner – especially birthday parties for our kids.  The things she creates, bakes & makes for those parties…amazing.  All that hard work – Why does she do that?  Because she loves our kids and wants them to have joy on their birthday.  Bringing people to Jesus is hard work.  It takes prayer, boldness…sometimes years of conversations, sacrifices, and loving others…BUT in the end it is worth it…to see the joy on someone’s birthday…their spiritual birthday.

Let’s be the best party planners – the party that happens in heaven each time someone trusts Jesus Christ as their Savior.

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This Generation Needs the Truth

The longer I am in youth ministry, the more I realize how much this generation needs to be reminded of the truth of the Gospel.Picture3The Gospel…

A Gospel that tells them they are loved.  Not just a little bit of love – but love that would send an innocent man to His death…for them!  That they are worth dying for!  A love that does not change – nothing they can do can lose any of God’s love and earn any more…it is perfect!

A Gospel that tells them they have hope.  Even with the bullying, with the feelings of loneliness, the difficulties in their academics…there is hope.  Philippians 3:20 says our citizenship is in heaven…we are just visiting this world that is full of sin & destruction…there is so much hope that awaits you.

A Gospel that tells them they have a purpose.  Their purpose is to spread this GREAT NEWS.  They have a voice, they have something to share, they have the key to LIFE…which leads us to our passage.  Read I Timothy 6:19-21.

Remember these two verbs from this passage:  Pursue & Avoid

Pursue:  Check out the end of verse 19 – “TRULY LIFE”

First, little background/context here – this is a the end of a message Paul was giving to the rich – not to care so much about earthly treasures…but to care about the eternal.  Live for what truly matters – “take hold of that which is truly life” – How?  Pursue the eternal.  There is so much out there for this generation to hold onto…just hoping it will bring them LIFE.

They are out there searching – hoping life has so much more.  Thinking…this can’t be all there is…emptiness just filling their souls.  Like they are hanging on the edge of a cliff and reaching for something…anything to save them.  But they keep grabbing for things that don’t hold up, sending them further down the cliff.

Pursue LIFE.  Eternal life.  Let me ask you this:  Do we give this example to this coming generation?  When we show them – the Christian life – it’s where it’s at!  This is THE life!  According to Pew Research – Rise of the Nones (those with NO religious affiliation) that is growing in this country – Most given reason for breaking off w/ religion they were raised in because…they become disenchanted.  They were disappointed in Christianity!  Why?  Could it be we aren’t living like this is the ONLY way?  We live like there are other options.  Is it worth it to us?  Worth dying for?  Is it THE LIFE?  OR Do we live boring, risk-free, non-committal Christian lives?  Is it any wonder this generation is saying no thanks?

The Christian life is HARD, takes sacrifice, will produce persecution…it better be WORTH IT!  Does our life, our passions, our speech, our actions…do they prove to our children that the Christian life is worth it?

This is how we pursue – 5 steps

  1. We talk about God in our home – According to the College Transition Project – 1in 8 teens talk to their moms and 1 in 20 to their dads about faith in their lives.
  2. Serve Together – Let’s drop off cookies at the neighbors together, come paint VBS sets together, and visit the elderly together…and then get ice cream after. Ok?
  3. Church is a priority – Not in a legalistic way…but in a “We love the Bride of Christ” kind of way…and we WANT to be there to learn, serve, and worship.
  4. Share your faith – Not just daddy or mommy…but all of us share. In our schools, our jobs, our ball teams, our band concerts our neighborhoods…LIFE of faith.
  5. Love Others – Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love others, love the lost…and prove it by your actions.

Avoid

End of verse 20 reminds me of:

  1. The philosophy professor at the secular college that wishes to disprove religion
  2. The rants of the atheists in our media aimed to humiliate anyone that believes in a higher power
  3. The theory that many call “science” claims the world was formed by a big bang & the existence of the universe was result of millions of years of chance

The world will call this knowledge – it is false – and our children need to hear the truth from us.  Avoid pointless arguments that get you nowhere…instead live by faith, share about what faith has done in your life, and love others – these are hard to argue.  We fight on FB – when we should offer a conversation at a coffee shopWe badmouth a child’s friend – when we should invite their parents out to breakfastWe get worked up in politics when we should be on our knees in prayer

What we want for our kids – verse 20…so we can do all we can to avoid verse 21.  The minute we water down the Gospel at our church or in our home – is the moment we fail.  We fail our Savior, we fail our responsibility, & we fail our children.  We guard the Gospel and avoid false teaching in our homes – with the hope of them staying firm in their faith.  Is this full-proof, money back guaranteed?  Not in this fallen world…but…  The more you talk about God in your home, protect the truth, and live it out…the greater the chance this coming generation will follow and stay firm in their faith.Picture2

Listen to the entire sermon here (9/4/2016)

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Selfishness Has Many Faces

Let me just give you a few examples of selfishness that you are pretty familiar with:

  • Burger Kings says “Have it ________ way” (YOUR)
  • Sprite says “Obey __________ thirst” (YOUR)
  • L’Oreal Hair Products say “Because ________ worth it” (YOU’RE)
  • Bon Jovi’s song called “It’s ____ life”(MY) & The Beatles sang song called “I, Me, Mine”

We have been conditioned by our culture to think of ourselves as most important.  It’s encouraged to be selfish…to look out for NUMBER 1.  Jesus says and did differently…You know what I have discovered… My selfishness is everywhere!  It’s like the dishes after dinner…you think you got all the big pots and pans…the plates…but then you find a sippy cup under the table.  “Aw man, How did I miss that!?!”

Just as I think I have my selfishness under control, I find it in another part of my life.

  • It’s when I want the traffic to go my way and all the lights to be green for ME.
  • It’s the quiet I think I deserve when come home from work – w/ 4 kids under the age of 8, it’s not just selfish, but impossible.
  • It’s when I get a fresh bottle of root beer…and several little voices ask for a sip.

You see how many faces selfishness can have?  It is FRIGHTENING!

Read Philippians 2:3-4

The Do’s & Don’ts – This essentially is a list of Do’s & Don’ts – ever since we were kids, we don’t like do’s and don’ts…and our flesh wants to continue to fight them…but if you play this out, you can see how a your life could be derailed by not following this list.

First the Do’s –  Have same mind/same love, Have humility, Look to the needs of others.  The Don’ts – Have Selfishness, Have Pride, Look to your own needs.  Why are these important?  Well, let’s look at what happens if you follow the don’t list…

  • Selfish – not have love for others
  • Pride – credit will not be given to the Savior
  • Look after you own interests – Please only yourself

Conversely, if you follow the do list…Love/Mind of Christ – accomplish the work of Christ…Humility – not get in the way of God working…Look at interests of others – reach needs & reach hearts of others

You can’t have the same mind & love of Christ if you have selfishness. It’s just not possible.  Isn’t that interesting – when we do what we want…we don’t think it will affect others.  But, in the end, nothing could be worse for our relationship with others than selfishness.

Humility is the complete opposite of selfishness.  Paul is saying – this must describe you.  And it might describe us!  As a follower of Christ – we are to be a servant, a humble follower of Jesus.  What an attitude.  An attitude I hope each of us can adopt – To where nothing is done in selfishness or pride.  Where we say “God did that”, not “I did that”.  Where we say “These people need Jesus” not “these people need my help”.  Where we say “How can I serve others” not “I’d rather just be comfortable” Picture1

So, two questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Why do you do the things you do?
  • Please yourself – Make yourself feel good? Avoid hardship as much as possible? Eat, Drink, & Be Merry philosophy?
  • Please others – To make people proud of you. To be able to brag to people what you do for a living…or how you help other people. So people see you as a good person.
  • Please God – Are you on this planet to bring others TO Him. What you do is not for your own comfort, to promote your business or your name…do ALL for the glory of God.
  1. Can I think of others higher than myself?
  • Means giving your attention to someone even when your eyes can barely stay open
  • Means listening to the Holy Spirit – leading you to help others
  • Means going outside your comfort zone for the betterment of someone else

In Philippians 2:6-11, we see the mind of Christ played out in one of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever written.  When you think of Jesus’ death – can’t help but think who he died for…the murderers, the rapists, and those on death row.  And he died for you, and for me.  Talk about humility, the King of Kings…nailed to a cross to die for all those that spit in His face.

Jesus showed his humility.  He showed it.  Because a man who just says he is humble and does not show it – is just the opposite.  And once you say you are humble, it is very likely you just lost your humility.  Look at the example of Christ…his humility, his love, and his willingness to put others first.  Selfishness has many faces…that’s why we need to not look in the mirror, but look to Christ.

Listen to the entire sermon here (9/4/2016)

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