Tag Archives: Jesus

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.

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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!

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

 

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What is Your Life?

Take a look at James 4:14.  What a profound question in the heart of that verse…”What is Your Life?”.  James decides to answer the question with a reference to the brevity of life.  But the question got me thinking.  At the end of my life as my life flashes before my eyes, how will I answer that question?  Even in my 30’s, reviewing the slide show of my life in my mind brings numerous emotions to the surface such as joy, excitement, wonder, curiosity, fear, grief, triumph, sadness, bewilderment (junior high days), pride, thankfulness…you get the idea.

But as I keep going back to that daunting question, “What is Your Life?”, it is not easy finding a defining moment or answer for that question.  That is, until you take a deeper, more spiritual look at your life.  What determines a successful life is not necessarily the moments you had on earth, but what was done for eternity.  The little girl I sat with on the steps of a Backyard Bible Club and led to the Savior, the moments of reading God’s Word to my kids, or the acts for others that were purely motivated to simply share the love of Jesus…these are the moments that determine my life.

I encourage you to take a look at this video, and through the tears that will probably form in your eyes, think about your life in rewind.  When your eyes close in this life, will they open to an eternity in paradise?  The only way to know for sure is to ask God to forgive your sins, and put your eternal destiny in God’s hands, and trust Him with your life.  For more information go here, or watch this video, listen to my sermon from yesterday, or comment below.

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Book Review: Lead Your Family Like Jesus

Book Review:  Lead Your Family Like Jesus

Lead-Your-Family1

The Good: This book provides positive instruction for the parent. Ranging from topics of goal-oriented parenting and developing family values, the parent is given wise advice throughout the book. It is more positive reinforcement than life-altering, but still provides value for the parent looking to improve in their parenting.  The idea of post-it notes for positive reinforcement was a great idea, and I plan to use that.  The Pause & Reflect sections are very useful to gauge where parenting help is needed.  Also, while the versus needed a little more depth, they do provide great basis for parenting Bible studies in the future.

The Bad: Sad to say, this book lacks spiritual depth at times. The authors have written books that have been popular in the business world, and that approach does not translate well in leading like Jesus. Basically, without the spiritual depth, it often acted like a parent self-help book. And when it came to discipline, I found it somewhat weak. It often caved to the thinking of discussing problems rather than providing consequences for actions.

The Grade: C. The title was a bit misleading. With the title, the reader is expecting a theological study of Jesus in regards to parenting. What the reader gets is a practical, day-to-day instructional book on parenting. While many of the points are helpful, I was hoping for something with a little more spiritual depth.

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3 Ways to Face Criticism in Ministry…Jesus-Style

Have you ever faced criticism in your ministry?  Either you responded with a question like “Is Bill Gates rich?” or a denominational question about the Pope, or you are new to ministry.  Not to be a downer here if you haven’t already, in due time, you will face some sort of criticism of your ministry.  Criticism comes from a variety of sources:  well-meaning parents, mean parents, accidentally by a student, incidentally by a student, consistently by a student, a senior pastor, your senior pastor, various church members, your wife, your kids, yourself…the list goes on.

Well you know who else faced criticism in ministry?  I know.  I kind of gave it away in the title.  Yes, it’s Jesus.  One clear example is found in John 11.  Let me quickly set this one up for you.  He just lost a dear friend.  He was so deeply moved, in verse 35, it says he wept.  I’ll give you a second to read that verse (just one second).  In verse 36, we see people empathize with Jesus.  However, in verse 37 is where we find criticism, basically saying, “Why didn’t Jesus do something about this?”

It’s interesting the circumstances. Jesus was suffering from a personal tragedy, yet people voiced their displeasure with his ministry to others.  Sound familiar?  Isn’t it usually after a long, exhausting overnighter that left you excited at decisions that were made, when you heard from a parent “Where was the youth pastor when these two snuck off together?”  Or maybe after a long, intense, spiritually and emotionally charged mission trip, a student that doesn’t attend complained “Why haven’t you planned any fun events this summer?”

How do we respond to these types of pins that let the air out of our ministry balloon?  Here are 3 ways to face criticism, Jesus-style:criticism2

Don’t Let It Affect Your MOVEMENT

I love the next verse following the criticism in verse 37.  It says “Jesus, deeply moved again”.  It was almost as if John was taking a shot here.  “Did you hear that, critical people, Jesus is hurting here!  Hello, do I need to give you more time to read verse 35?”  Just in case you didn’t notice the first time he WEPT!  It seems like John is sticking up for His friend and Savior here.

But the main point is this:  The criticism did not stop Jesus from being moved with compassion.  It didn’t stunt his emotions.  It didn’t stop his movement towards the cave.  How often does criticism stop us in our tracks?  Where we forget about the life decisions made at camp or the spiritual impact of an event or lesson, and we focus on the words of a few.  Jesus didn’t let it stop Him.

Don’t Let It Affect Your MINISTRY

God has given you a purpose for your ministry.  It is important you do what is best for the students that you are shepherding.  Sometimes you have to look past the criticism when you know what you are doing is clearly the ministry God-directed.  Sure, you have conversations, but your ministry cannot change to please the minority.

Look here.  Jesus told them to remove the stone in verse 39.  Martha saw this as stupid (actually she saw this as smelly, but you know what I mean).  Jesus took the time to explain this was for the glory of God, and he continued.

See what I mean.  Some will see what you are doing as foolish.  Maybe you cancel a traditional event, or you cut back office hours to spend on campus.  As long as it is God-led, you have the support of key leaders and administration; you may just have to tell people, this is being done for God’s glory, and keep moving.  That’s what Jesus did.

Don’t Let It Affect Your MISSION

What is our ultimate mission?  I would hope it would resemble the great commission, and your mission is to reach students with the gospel and make disciples.  Criticism can stop us from completing this mission.  “This will cost too much money”.  “Students will never listen to this…or come to this”.  “The youth pastor looks too much like Mr. Bean” (Okay that last one may just apply to me).

Check this out.  According to most of your Bibles, the story of Jesus Raises Lazarus is over.  Or is it?  In verse 45, because of this miracle, what happens to several of Mary’s friends?  They believe!  That’s right.  Because Jesus didn’t let criticism stop Him from His ultimate mission, the lost saw the power of Jesus, and they believed!

What if you stop short of your mission because of criticism?  Would it result in the lost not seeing the power of Jesus and believing?  Don’t miss the story in your ministry either, because in the next verse in your story, there may be a teenager that becomes a child of God.  Jesus knew the end of the story, and he kept with His mission.

 

Your movement, ministry, and mission are too important.  Maybe criticism is the stone in your way, and you just need Jesus to take away the stone.  And, in the end, God will get the glory, and you might see a miracle happen in your ministry…you might see students come to Jesus.

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