Tag Archives: Jesus

Book Review: The Art of Neighboring

Book Review:  The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon

The Good:

Best Camouflage is Right in Front of Your Face.  I had a high school teacher that would repeat that phrase when he didn’t notice the person in the front row raising their hand.  It tends to be true in life.  We often neglect the things that are right in front of us.  This book is one of those obvious premises that is so clear in Scripture, but we often generalize it and walk right past it.  Love your neighbor actually means to LOVE…YOUR…NEIGHBOR.  Imagine that?

Uber Practical.  If you have read my reviews in the past, you know what a big fan I am of practical books.  Don’t just give me all the information and don’t give me pointers on what to do with what I learned.  Help this poor slow reader connect the dots.  And boy does this book do that!  It gives you numerous ideas and even personal examples on how to put the principles into practice.

The B-I-B-L-E.  Pathak & Runyon do a fantastic job of using Biblical examples, typically from the life of Jesus to drive each point home.  If I’m going to step out on a limb here and start applying these bold, but needed actions, it helps to have some Biblical support.

The Bad:

Huh?  One concern I did see was on page 174.  The paragraph under the heading “Find a Partner”.  With phrases like “all truth is God’s truth”, and listing of various religions as possible partners in “honoring God”.  Could cause some confusion and almost sounds like relativism.  I don’t think that was his intention, but did raise my eyebrow.  Basically, it was not a well-thought out idea and slightly tainted the ending of the book for e.

The Grade:  B+

Well thought out practical ideas that the church needs to hear.  You want to read books that change your life, and I can honestly say this book does.  It has convicted me in how I interact with my neighbors and in the month that I have been reading this book, I’ve met at least 3 new neighbors.  Sure, not astronomical numbers, but it’s a start.  Want to be a good neighbor?  I think even Mr. Rogers would tell you, try this book on for size.

 

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Why Do I Want to Shake Joseph of Arimathea’s hand?

Jesus was far from home during the crucifixion.  As a result, his family did not have a tomb, or any other family’s member’s tomb they could use…In comes Joseph.

Who is Joseph?

Wealthy man – shown in the size of the tomb.  A possible reference to Isaiah 53:9, prophesying Jesus would be “rich in his death”

Member of Sanhedrin – lawgivers/judges – the group of men that pushed for Jesus’ death

Jesus’ Disciple – A follower of Jesus, secret follower…until now!

Good Man – He didn’t agree with the death of Jesus.  Recorded in Luke 23:51 & John 19:38.

What did he do?

Went to Pilate – That took some guts.  But it also took some clout, but Joseph of Arimathea had it, in his Sanhedrin position.

Ven. Bede said this – “It was divinely appointed that Joseph should be rich, in order to have access to Pilate, for no mean man could have access to the governor; and that he should be a just man, in order to receive the body of our Lord”

Took the body – Took the body off the cross and carried it off the hill, most likely with the help of Nicodemus.  A Jew, willing to defile himself – willing to do so for His Savior.

Wrapped the body – He and Nicodemus spared no expense in wrapping Jesus’ body w 75 lbs. of spices.

Laid body in the Tomb–Laid Jesus’ body in the tomb – Joseph cut with his OWN hands.

Rolled the stone – Gospels just say he rolled the stone in front of the tomb.  Maybe he and Nicodemus were power lifting partners during lunch breaks?  Maybe they used a fulcrum system?  Maybe they dug a trench and rolled the stone down the hill.

Why did he do ALL that?

Here’s the point.  He didn’t have to.  He did all this because he was willing to boldly put his faith into action.

Listen this man risked EVERYTHING:  His status, his wealth, his job, his life…to bury the Savior.  Now that’s BOLD.

But to me, it’s more than that…In heaven, after praising my Savior and my God …you know who one of the first hands I want to shake next…JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA.

Why?  Well, it almost goes without saying that good men weren’t hung on a cross.  That was reserved for the worst criminals of society.  So, normal practice was to leave the crucified bodies on the cross to be eaten by the birds, the cut down and thrown into a makeshift grave by the side of the hill.

Listen, Jesus didn’t deserve the whip, the thorns, the nails…

You want to know WHY I want to shake Joseph’s hand…Because my Savior certainly doesn’t deserve for his dead body to be eaten by birds, put into a wheelbarrow and dumped on the side of a hill.

So thank you Joseph.  Jesus had suffered enough humiliation because of my sin.  Thank you for stepping up and giving my Jesus a proper burial.  Thank you for your boldness.

[Entire Sermon can be heard/watched here – click on special messages –  9/17/2017 link]

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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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Can I Really Be Used by God? Me?

Read Mark 5:1-20 – This is becoming one of my all-time favorites in the Gospel, love this story`

Background

In the timeline of Mark, Jesus had just got done sleeping on the very first water bed in the bottom of the boat…before calming the storm.  (Get it, because there was water in the bottom of the boat, and Jesus was sleeping, oh forget it.)  He then steps off the boat and is immediately greeted by a demon possessed man.

Demon-Possessed Man

This man had incredible strength – no chains or shackled could hold them down.  It says these metal restrains were broken into pieces.  Dude was strong.  This poor man suffered day & night – crying out and cutting himself with stones

The Demons

Just like earlier in Mark (1:24), we see the order of power.  These demons knew right away who Jesus was, and declared His deity.  The demons, who Jesus was calling out, asked Jesus’ permission to enter the pigs.

The Change

Verses 15, 18 – Look at the contrast here.  This man goes from screaming & cutting himself to asking to follow Jesus.  I love it.  He was so excited to be free, he wanted to follow Jesus wherever he went. He was like, “Where can I get an application to be a disciple?”  “Hey Peter, scoot over…John you mind if I sit there?”  Then Jesus said, “Whoa, whoa…now hold on a minute”…obviously appreciating his new enthusiasm.  And then gives the demon possessed-man some basic instructions.

Jesus’ Basic Instructions

Here’s what I want you to see…Look who Jesus sends out with the Good News:

  • A man who was possessed by thousands of demons.
  • A man who was out of his mind
  • A man who would scream day and night, cutting himself with stones in a graveyard
  • He was an outcast to society

And what does Jesus tell him to do?  Go tell the people of this city how the Lord has changed you from the inside-out.  Tell others about God’s mercy.  And when this man told others about these things…what happened?  At the end of our passage – it says people “marveled”.

3 things to remember from this passage:

  1. Never underestimate a life changed by Jesus. No matter who you are, what you have done…God can use you to do MARVELOUS things.
  2. Never doubt a life can’t be changed by the “Son of Most High”. The change is remarkable, people will notice, and God can change anyone He wants to.
  3. If Jesus told a demon-possessed man to be the carrier of Good News…what does that mean for us. These basic instructions of “Tell others about how your life has changed and share about His mercy”.  These are instructions for us too, and we need to be sharing, and watch other marvel at the Good News.
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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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How to Climb The Mountain of Righteousness

You are at the base of the tallest mountain in the world.  Let’s say no one has ever made it to the top due to treacherous slopes, dangerous animal habitats, and weather conditions where no human has ever survived.

Yet, with your can-do-it spirit, your Marmot coat, one of those unbreakable water bottles that doesn’t spill, some rope, and a packet of foot warmers…you charge the mountain. All around you, you see others making the same attempt, and all of them are failing miserable. But you still try, and try, and try again.

Oceans-Deep-Daily-Devotional-and-Meditation-on-Psalm-36-6Seems foolish, but this trip up the impossible mountain happens every day for so many people. This impossible mountain is called righteousness. As it says in Psalm 36:6, “Your righteousness is like the highest mountains”…that is, God’s righteousness. We live in a world that is trying to climb the impossible mountain of righteousness, and even though they keep failing to reach the top, they keep trying.

You will never reach the top on your own. But there is hope. Jesus is at the top of the mountain, reaching down with His hand. His hand offering forgiveness, new life, and eternal hope. But, in their hardness of heart, very few look up. Determined to climb the mountain on their own, they never look for help…they fail to see Jesus, their only hope for reaching the top.

Romans 3:23 tells us we all fall short of God’s glory. That is until we trust in Jesus. When we give our life to Jesus, He gives us His righteousness…He takes us right to the top of the mountain and our eternal journey begins.

Will you take His hand? He is reaching for you now. Stop trying to climb the mountain on your own and keep falling…grab His hand, and enjoy the view.

mountainTop

More of this sermon can be heard here.

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Youth Curriculum Review Series – 2015 Edition (cont.)

In the final installment of the Youth Curriculum Review of 2015, let’s take a look at some small group curriculum.

41efF+SLSLL._SX404_BO1,204,203,200_Creative Bible Lessons in Job by Doug Ranck.  Let me just say this.  I have searched and used many youth curriculum, and one of the curricula that I often recommend is the Creative Bible Lessons.  Here’s what you get with this curriculum.  A starter or icebreaker for the lesson that often comes with multiple options with minimal setup but maximum effectiveness.  Then the lesson is dynamic, easy to teach, good foundation of Scripture, and a good challenge.  In the end, there are discussion questions and worksheets that work very well in the small group setting.

66475Serving Like Jesus by Doug Fields & Brett Eastman.  This was a good fit for small group, but on a heavier teaching night, it would not work as well.  The teaching material is limited and often required some additional work.  However, the discussion questions and outlined series were phenomenal.  I actually added to the series by inviting people in the church who were serving like Jesus to interview them.  That added to the material.  The highlight of this curriculum was definitely the plethora of interaction and discussion questions.  So if you struggle in the teaching side, this might not be best series.  But in a small group setting with shorter teaching and more discussion, this is perfect.

indexSurrender by Francis Chan.  Disclaimer to begin:  I’m a huge Francis Chan.  I’ve read every book he has written and Crazy Love happens to be in my top 5 books of all time.  That being said, this series is a small group goldmine for many reasons.  It provides a DVD series to break up your teaching.  The subject matters are not fluff, but are very challenging, relevant, and hold the interest well.  The lesson is very well put together and Biblically based.  The discussion questions provided allow the small groups to flourish and have great follow-up.  The only down side is it only 4 weeks.  Other than that, it is well worth using for a “break” series during the year, to finish the year, or even in a retreat setting.

 

 

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Who Needs The Cross?

Let’s say your neighbor or friend told you to undergo chemotherapy…would you? Well, no, especially when you feel healthy, have had no symptoms, no lumps, and you have no evidence of a need for chemo.

Let me ask you this…does your attitude change when the doctor shows you the MRI, the test results, the blood levels…revealing you have cancer. Do you see a need for the chemotherapy now?

Listen, it is only when you see yourself as sick that you go to the doctor. You don’t go to the doctor to visit and chat about sports and the weather. It’s not worth the waiting room experience, is it? No – you go to the doctor when you’re sick. You undergo chemo when you have cancer.

Same thing when talking about with your soul – you will never go to the Savior Jesus Christ asking to be saved – if you don’t think there is anything to be saved from…you don’t feel like a sinner or think you are sinner…so why would you need to be forgiven?

Well today, I’m the doctor coming to you with the deadly results – you have a genetic defect…in fact, all of us are infected…and it is called sin…and the only cure is the cross. Jesus’ death on the cross. Who needs the cross? YOU DO! I DO! We all do!

EvangelismClass

Taken from Sermon on 5/31/2015 – can be heard here

 

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