Category Archives: Spiritual

Can Jesus Really Sympathize With Me?

Jesus.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Savior of the World.  The Messiah.

Could the Son of God truly sympathize with me?  Did he really have the same struggles that I have today?  Hebrews 4:15 says it is so.  But to what degree?  What are some examples of how Jesus knows exactly how you feel?  Off the top of my head, here are few…

  1. Fatigue – Jesus’ ministry schedule was pretty packed (3 years to start a revolution) – he understands the fatigue of young mothers with little sleep, he understands the student after a long work week, and he understands the elderly weary from battling their health
  2. Health – would be naïve to think Jesus didn’t go through flu season, have a cold, or a headache from all the hammering in his father’s shop
  3. Physical pain – Sure there was the indescribable pain on the cross, but what about growing pains, hitting his thumb with a hammer or falling down on his 1st camel ride
  4. Temptations – Jesus was at times treated like a rock star (not what He intended). But as the crowds grew, I’m sure there were women who desired his power, businessmen who say $ signs, and an enemy who would tempt him in every possible way.  You think your temptations are intense – how hard do you think Satan tried with Jesus who held the keys to his eternal future in the lake of fire.
  5. Job Demotion – Wait, when was this? Hello?  From heaven, to take a form of a servant…talk about a job loss!  Still 100% God, but took the form of man.
  6. Financial struggle – Jesus was rarely home in his ministry days, often did not have much financially as he traveled, and his treasurer skimming off the top of his ministry funds!
  7. Sorrow – He wept over his friend Lazarus. Had to be alone when he heard of John the Baptist’s execution.  And several times recorded his cries over the city of Jerusalem.

I’m sure there is more.  But you get the idea.  Christ is not just our Savior, he is our sympathetic high priest who was tempted in every way we were, suffered every possible ailment we experience…yet He did not sin.  Yet, He does not fail to give us sympathy in our struggles.  No, we have a high priest that cares, suffers with us, and even intercedes on our behalf.  Oh, what a Savior!

Listen to the entire sermon here – http://mbconline.org/sermons/current-year – 2/25/18 Sermon

 

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Which is Better: The Creator or The Creation?

I remember when I learned that Jesus was there at creation – my mind was blownYou understand why there are plural pronouns in the creation account in Gen. 1:26You see it clearly in John 1 that Jesus was a big part of the start of this worldColossians 1:16 becomes like a bright and shining star.  And in, Hebrews 1:2 it is pretty clear I was missing out on something special.  Jesus was THERE before creation, during creation, and will be there after the created world perishes

Every year at Thanksgiving – my wife hopes that I will show up in a different sweater.  But the last 10 years, I have worn the same sweater.  Each year, I faithfully wear that brown & orange argyle piece of art.  To my wife, it makes little sense to show up in that ugly, old, and tattered the sweater year after year.  With the choice of a new sweater vs. one that by most accounts is hideous, it should be an easy choice.

In Hebrews 1:10-12, we find a comparison of the Creator (Jesus) vs. Creation – after we review this, the choice should be easy…

CREATOR (JESUS) CREATION
Creator Created
Unchanged Grow Older
Eternal Death
Just the Beginning End is Near

Do me a favor and look at these lists.  Which do you want to follow?  Which list do you want to be a part of?  Which list wins?  Which list is better?

It’s an easy choice.  You’d rather have the creator, unchangeable, eternal, and beginning of an incredible future…instead of an old, headed for death, ending soon creation. Easy choice?  Then why do we constantly make the wrong choice.  We choose creation all the time over the Creator.  We choose the ugly, wrinkled, old sweater…We choose money over the joy of giving. We choose lust, pride, and anger over purity, humility & grace.  We choose to love the things of this world instead of putting our treasures in heaven. We choose wrong all the time – and we put a list like this, side by side, and puts our hearts to shame.

It’s an easy choice…that we make WAY too hard.  When we get the creature (US) and the creator (Jesus) mixed up…our life gets messed up.  We do things on our own – w/out the counsel of Scripture.  We rely on our own strength and we fail in our weakness – it’s why we ARGUE (our way seems beset), why we FIGHT (our way was violated) and why we GET DOWN (our way wasn’t chosen).

I can remember in high school.  We had soccer practice in the rain, and to end practice we decided to slide through the mud.  I thought it was a good idea…until I got home.  My mom, and rightfully so, would not let me in the house.  You’ve been there – your mom looked at your clothes and said “Yeah that stain’s not coming out.”  The shirt gets rolled up and tossed…she says “Go take a shower and change into something new”.

This world we live in – it’s like those clothes.  It’s dirty.  It’s full of sin.  Just turn on the news for 5 seconds and you are reminded we live in a fallen world.  Sin has tainted its beauty and innocence that were part of it during creation week, only to be robbed of its purity in the Garden.

But Jesus – one day will roll it up, toss it aside and lay out a new one…without the dirt, the pain, the suffering…everything will be made new.  What a day that will be.

(You can listen to the entire sermon here – click on 1/28/2018 sermon)

 

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What is Good?

Most of the time, we have a very poor definition of good.  We read Romans 8:28, and we think of our own definition of good…

Good to us is a well-frosted piece of cake.  Good to us is a plush, cushioned recliner.  Good to us is sitting on the beach with an ice-cold sweet tea.  Good to us is when we wake up with clear sinuses, no aches/pains and low blood pressure.  Good to us is when we have some extra in our bank account for some fun purchases this month.

While these things are not bad…it shows we have little idea of how good the goodness of God truly is.  God’s goodness is more than this.

Joni-Eareckson Tada (a diving accident at 17 left her without use of her hands/legs…is now CEO of Joni & Friends International Disability Center, famous artist using her mouth, & international speaker) said this:

“God cares most – not about making us comfortable – but about teaching us to hate our sins, grow up spiritually, and love him.  To do this, HE gives us salvation’s benefits only gradually, sometimes painfully gradually.  In other words, he lets us continue to feel much of sin’s sting while we’re headed for heaven…where at last, every sorrow we taste will one day prove to the be best possible thing that could have happened.”

You see, God operates from a whole different level.  Not limited by time & space; Unlimited knowledge & power that has no bounds

BUT Put all these together and just TRY to doubt that God can accomplish Romans 8:28 in our difficulties.

Sure, good can be seen when life is riding on unicorns on rainbows while eating skittles.  But when life gets hard – that’s when we really see God work in miraculous ways.

God can orchestrate his plans, interweaving through the evils of this world, pulling decisions and circumstances from the past, present & future…allowing difficulties, exercising patience…and HE IS ABLE TO MAKE IT GOOD.

That’s my God – NOTHING can stop Him from accomplishing His goodness.  None of these things stopped God from producing good in Joseph’s life.  And NOTHING will stop him from producing good in your life either.

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Does God Really Care About the Details of Your Life?

You know, there are times when I study God’s Word, and I get goosebumps when I see God’s hand.  Did you know that the temple of Jerusalem, the city which overlooked the hill of Jesus’ death…were located on what is called a “seismic ridge”, a geological fault line that extends all the way to the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.

You think God didn’t know where Jesus was to killed…where his death would be?  He did!  To think when God created the world, HE knew the very place where this fault line would be…He knew in how he formed the earth that in that specific place…there would be an earthquake that would reverberate from the core of the world he created for man to live.

You don’t think God is in every detail?  You think your life is any different?  That God doesn’t have a plan, that He doesn’t know your suffering, that He isn’t in complete control?  He was, and is, and always will be.

An Excerpt from the sermon called “The Earth Shook”.  (Watch the entire sermon here)

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Our Reaction to the Resurrection

What is your reaction to the resurrection?  Here are four reactions that come to mind.he_is_risen-title-1-still-4x3

Belief.  Do you believe Jesus died and rose from the dead?  A lawyer named Frank Morison was determined to disprove evidence for the resurrection.  He believed Jesus lived a wonderful life, but he saw the Resurrection as more a fable passed down from generations.  His plan was to write a logical, well-thought out argument against the Resurrection.  But as he studied, something happened.  When he approached the fact, looked at them in a legal manner – methodically and carefully.  He changed his mind.  He eventually wrote a Best-Seller called “Who Moved the Stone?”, filled with pages of evidence for Christ’s resurrection.  The very thing he set out to refute. Instead he wrote a book with the 1st chapter aptly named “The Book that Refused to be Written”.  He went from unbelief to BELIEF. (Paraphrase from “More Than a Carpenter” by McDowell)

Live With Purpose – I Corinthians 15:12-14We have a message – Not a lie, but a message of a loving, living Savior.  We can have faith – Paul declared that without the resurrection of Jesus, the faith they held was not good for anything.  Now it’s good for everything.  We can live forgiven – With the resurrection of Jesus there is reconciliation.  We can live with a future in mind – Our future is bright…for all eternity.

Live with Hope – I Corinthians 15:16-19.  Maybe there is a job you hope to have someday?  Because you believe it can happen…and that gives you motivation to show up to work on time, work hard, perform well…or maybe study well for a degree.  You can’t see what job you will have someday but you strive for it and you hang on to the hope of it.  Eternity, you cannot see, but you have hope of attaining it one day if you trust in Jesus…and because of the resurrection, there is hope.   Because of that hope, you can live another day, work hard for the cause of Christ…because one day you will attain eternal life.  What hope that is.

Live with New Life –  I Corinthians 15:20-23.  Guarantee.  You ever taken back an item that said “lifetime guarantee”?  And then the person at the register or over the phone asks you to get your magnifying glass out to read the fine print that has lists all the things the guarantee doesn’t include.  You see, it has exceptions.  Not eternal life.  The “firstfruit” here refers to the 1st part of the harvest that was put in the storehouse.  So Jesus represents the 1st to be resurrected, and those that believe in Him will follow Him someday…Not many things are guaranteed in this life…but God gives us the guarantee of eternal life through faith in Jesus…the resurrected Savior.

What is your reaction?  Feel free to share in the comments below.  And if you don’t have a church to celebrate…you are welcome to visit ours!

 

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What does Jesus’ ascension have to do with you?

the_ascent-content-2-still-4x3In Acts 1:8-11, the ascension of Jesus Christ takes place.  Something special happened as Jesus gave his final instructions and shot off into the clouds.  What was it?  What does this event have to do with you?

When Jesus ascended to heaven, an eternal hand-off from Jesus to the disciples. 3 years of public ministry had come to an end and now it is up to them.  And now it is up to us.  In John 16, Jesus said it would be to the disciples advantage that he would leave…because then…you would get the Holy Spirit.

Let me ask you this – I understand this was a promise for the disciples…but is this a different Holy Spirit? A different source of power than the HS that lives in us?  Are we to be a witness to a different Jesus?  We have the power to be a witness for Jesus in our neighborhood, our community, our workplace..and we as a church are giving to missions, some of us are answering the call to missions to allow the Gospel to go to the ends of the earth.

If a loved one held your hand before they passed, and they gave you final instruction… would you listen? People, this was Jesus’ last instruction before leaving earth.  So church…ARE YOU? Are you being a witness to others?  Your mission is to spread the Gospel, the message of Jesus…He came, He died, He rose again…and He left – and has chosen us to spread Word about Him, His love, and His Salvation.  Will you?

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10 Ways Christmas is Different as an Adult

  1. The energy level from a new toy or video game system lasted all day as a kid.  Now after the rush of Christmas morning, by dinner time it felt like 2 am, I just ran a marathon, and a bus hit me while I were crossing the finish line.
  2. Your Christmas list was toys, games, and fun stuff…now it is programmable thermostats to save money in the winter, socks, and a waterproof vest…and the funny thing is, you are just as excited!
  3. It used to take a week to play or enjoy all the presents…now I look for a box that I can fit my presents in and I’m all set.
  4. I cannot think of one Christmas dinner I had growing up…but this Hickory Honey Ham presentation with Hawaiian rolls, loaded mashed potatoes, carrot casserole, and a chilled IBC root beer will not be soon forgotten.
  5. Matching jammies with my family as a child would be thoroughly resisted in every way…but as a grown up it’s hilarious, fun, and great for pictures.
  6. Opening presents was just the best…now opening your own presents can get in the way of watching your kids open theirs.
  7. When you were a kid it was fun to make Christmas lists…now it takes me all year to compile things I want (it’s true, I keep a notes list on my phone – the programmable thermostat held the #1 spot since summer).
  8. What happened to me? I went from “Merry Christmas ya filthy animal” to where I couldn’t wait to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and allow my eyes to well up…it’s only a matter of time till the tears start rollin in.
  9. I don’t remember when I stopped believing in Santa Claus, but I know I won’t forget when my kids have that experience!
  10. One thing will never change with my age, I still am thankful for the reason for the Season and love to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus with my kids…The Hope that Christ brought me as a kid is the hope I still hold on to today.

15697298_10157887449565246_5706098247670253993_nHoping you and your family had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

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Dreams Do Come True – My 1st Book Goes On Sale Today!

The cursor blinked on the dark screen of that old computer.  My dad gave me his old IBM computer that weighed more than my bedroom furniture, but that was where the dream began.  I began to journal, write about my day, and watch the green print float words across the screen.  I didn’t know how to type.  Goodness, I barely knew how to spell.  But I did know I loved to write.

where-it-all-beganFast-forward to my college years.  I found a black leather-bound book, dove into the book of Psalms, and went to work.  Each night, I would write a devotional for myself with a summary statement at the end.  I don’t know if it was “senioritis”, or I just ran out of time…but I graduated and I never reached the end of Psalms.  That black leather book left incomplete, was thrown in a pile of my old academic records and free movie posters that the local theater would give me and my buddies every Tuesday.

Days become months, months become years, and time continued to tick on by.  I go on to seminary, marry the love of my life, and our family grows to four with our 2nd daughter born.  Then, as I was cleaning my office, I stumbled upon that black book.  I perused the pages realizing what a treasure I had just stuffed in my files.  I committed to finishing the Psalms, and began my quest to become an author.

Little did I know how difficult that next journey would be.  Rejection after rejection from publishing companies, I began to lose hope.  I mean, how could I blame them.  My name wasn’t Francis Chan or John Piper…to publishers, it was Jeff Who.  Although I was hesitant, I researched my options with self-publishing.  It was a little overwhelming, so I phoned an old friend.  Well, at that time, I don’t know if friend was the right word.  On the other end of the phone was my high school English teacher.  I called him Mr. P, mostly because I thought he closely resembled Mr. C on Happy Days.  In High School, I rarely paid attention, talked during class, and often showed little respect.  But, when Mr. P got a call from me about my dream of becoming an author, he didn’t hesitate to take me to lunch, pay for my meal, and answer every question I had.  He paid attention to me, talked me into reviving my dream, and a respectful friendship was born.

After months of editing and brainstorming, we were about a quarter of the way through the book.  Then, tragedy hit.  Mr. P passed away in his sleep.  My mentor, my new friend, my help in this journey went to be with his Savior.

front-coverNow what do I do?  I turned to another mentor, an established youth ministry author, who took an interest in my dream.  He connected me with a publishing company called Overboard Ministries.  And, as they say, the rest is history.  After long nights of editing for over a year, deliberation of titles and book cover designs…the day is finally here.

Dear Lord, I don’t feel like I deserve this dream to come true.  Remembering the days in front of that dark screen in my room, journaling my day that consisted mostly of backyard football and NHL 94 battles on the Sega Genesis with my brother to the late nights in an off campus house hoping these words would bless someone, someday.  To the days where it seemed like this dream was all but lost, which happened on more than one occasion.  My name is finally on the front of that book.  God, I give you this book.  Use it to help teens who are not consistently having a quiet time with the Lord yet.  Use it to bless the frustrated college student who feels alone, disappointed, and abandoned to find comfort, encouragement, and fulfillment in the Bible.  Use it to guide that 7th grader who feels lost in the new world of adolescence, and needs to discover the guiding hand of God’s Word.

You see, in the end, this dream became bigger than me.  The dream becomes a reality when I am able to hand this book to a teenager or young adult and watch them fall in love with God’s Word.  Now, that’s when my dreams truly come true.

Visit:  http://www.bottomlinedevotional.com to learn more about the book and how you can order a copy.

 

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How Can a Christian Get Huge Muscles?

lee-haneyWhen I was little, after Saturday morning cartoons, my brother and I would watch this TV show with one of the most successful body-builders of all-time Lee Haney.  I always thought it was the coolest thing to have huge muscles.  My wife laughs at how I always like to ask the biggest guy at the gym what he does to get bigger biceps.  Maybe someday…

But in any workout, there usually is some type of weight-lifting…designed to make you stronger.

In Colossians 1:11,  it says in order to walk close to God…we need strength, power, & might.  It’s time for some weight-lifting.  And when you do, you don’t produce huge biceps and superior lats…no, you get something much better – endurance, patience with joy.

Doesn’t that just describe life.  Write that phrase down – “Endurance and patience w/ joy” and repeat it often throughout the week.

  • When new construction delays your way to work – “Endurance and patience w/ joy”
  • When a tree falls into the side of the house – “Endurance and patience w/ joy”
  • When your husband decides to fix an electrical outlet and the entire 1st floor electricity goes out (love you honey) – “Endurance and patience w/ joy”

No matter how hard I try to bench 500 pounds…just not going to happen unless two big guys pulling it off my chest before I die.

can-i-pray-for-you-part-2-2This is life – and it is heavy lifting – sometimes the weight seems too much and we call on God for a spot…when we should be depending on Him for all of the lifting all along.

“Strengthened” – this literally means a regenerating power – not just a one-time power up at salvation hoping to last a lifetime – God will strengthen you till you meet Him in glory.  This strength is a power that comes from God.  Have you felt that power?  I know I have.  In tragedy – God gave me power to get through.  In temptation – God has given me power to fight through.  In trials – God gives me power to suffer through.

You know, there are those that don’t believe in God and his power – ask them this – You prove to yourself there is no God.  Congratulations…now what do you have?

“Endurance” – resisting the urge to fight evil with evil or take revenge.  Fight another way – by persevering to the end and not quitting in the Christian life.  Charles Spurgeon said “By perseverance the snail reached the ark”.  Don’t quit when life gets tough.

  • Tough day at work – don’t yell at your wife
  • Tragedy in your family – be kind to the doctors, nurses, & funeral director
  • Job loss – don’t let your pride make you unbearable.

Don’t try to fight with other means like bitterness, anger, or hate…it will take you down the wrong road.

“Patience” – steadfast, one who will not be deterred from the ultimate goal – even through immense trials and difficulty.  This is not the weight-lifter that sits on the machine “waiting around” – this is like a runner battling through cramps and pain to finally reach the finish line.  Body-builders grinding it out only to see results later down the road – isn’t that what life is like?

“Joy” – is a sign of a strong Christian walk.  Some of you today are lifting some heavy weight right now, some incredible burdens – but it is the inner strength that comes from the Lord – still find joy in these times.  It’s not a passive or emotionless joy.  Even when we know the ending of a movie/documentary, we still may cry tears in the middle…we are in the middle of God’s story, and we know the end…but we still may hurt.  But God gives us the strength to have joy even in the struggles, pain and disappointment – that’s the power of God.

There’s a reason why runners do weight training – so they have endurance and strength to fight to the end.  God can give you that strength to fight to the end.

God can part the sea, make the sun stand still, and create the universe in 6 days…but He can’t make you have patience…what does that tell you?  God will do all He can to put you in a position to endure and have patience with joy.  Will you let Him train you in your patience & joy?

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