Posts Tagged ‘sermon’

It All Comes Down To This

August 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Could God have created a better ending?  I don’t think so.  In the beginning of this collection of books we have the words, “In the beginning God created…”  At the end we read the invitation, “Come!”  And in between we have tons of history, wisdom, explanation, direction, evidence, and instruction.  We see a story, His story, about His plan for His people.  Not all will choose to be His people…but the invitation is still given.  “Come!”

At many points in our lives we have those ‘Ah Ha!’ moments when we realize something is true.  John here, in Revelation 22, is coming to the end of the vision given to Him from above.  He is about to give this book, this letter if you will, to the churches that he was instructed to give it to (see chapters 2 & 3).  Something is near.  Something is coming soon.  The angel and the Spirit and Jesus say these phrases too many times for these readers to think this letter isn’t really for them but for believers way off in the future.  The time for them is now.  Ah Ha!

Jesus has given them constructive criticism.  He’s given them instruction.  He’s given them a road map about what’s going to happen soon, and then He ends with an invitation.  He’s not saying that they will be kept from the bad things pointed out in the book…but those things are earthly…persecution coming from the rulers at hand.  They are not of this world…John 15:19, Romans 12:2.  We’re not either.  We’re of another way and life if we’ve chosen Jesus.

So who is this invitation for in 22:17?  Well, I think this sentence contains two invitations.  What’s interesting here is that in the first half of 22:17, it states that the Spirit, the Bride (Jesus’ church) and those who hear all say “Come!”  I think this is the invitation for Jesus to come back and do what He says will be done in the first part of this letter.  In the timeline of the church at the point this vision is being given, the city of Jerusalem and the temple have not yet been destroyed.  If you think through what we’ve read in this letter so far, we’ve seen the holy city of Jerusalem move to become a description of Jesus’ bride, the church.  We’ve also seen the temple, where the Spirit dwells, move to a description of Jesus’ church as well.  And the church at that point in time, in John’s vision from Christ, is calling for Jesus to “Come!” and finish the work of the old covenant and to bring in the new one where God’s words will be written on our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31), where the church won’t be a place but a people (1 Corinthians 6), and when Jesus is the High priest and we are the priests beneath Him (1 Peter 2:5…notice the phrase ‘being built’).  John’s vision saw all this as though it had come to pass.  The destruction of the man made things had to take place so that the spirit made things could become evident.

This invitation is also for all those who wish to be a part of this new covenant…this new way of having a relationship with God.  The second half of 22:17 says that any who want to have this living water can have it….”Let all those who are thirsty come…”  This part of the invitation is for anyone this side of Heaven.  At one point in time though, we will no longer have the time to respond.

The next logical move for God is to bring those who have responded to Heaven to spend eternity with Him.  So our invitation to believe and follow ends with our last breath…and we don’t know when that will be.  It could also end if God chooses to move to the next big change tomorrow.

Here’s what it comes down to.  Have you responded?  This might sound harsh, but as I read it, waiting to answer is really a “no” answer.  Yes is the only way.  Do I understand how all of this will fall out?  Not a bit.  But I know what I read…and there is an end.

I made a decision when I was younger.  There’s been a few times when I’ve revisited that commitment and reaffirmed it.  But the point at which I crossed over the bold line in the sand, I entered eternity.  I started drinking the water of life at that point.  Death to my body won’t be to me…only to my skin, bones and bald head.  So what is your response?

If you’re reading this, you probably have some knowledge of God and Jesus.  Now you know a little bit more.  Maybe enough to make a decision…maybe enough to ask some more questions.  Either way…I hope that you move toward that water (v. 17).  I know many people are thirsty because they know there’s something more to life.  Well I’m here to tell you there is.  The lie is that this life on this planet is the end all.  But it’s not.  I can’t make the decision for you.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3 that we only plant a seed.  God grows the seed in your life.  I hope I planted something…let it grow.  J

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,


Here’s a great video.  Take the next 15 minutes and relax with God.



New worship services

There was a congregation that decided to have four worship services each Sunday.

There was one for those new to the faith.

Another for those who liked traditional worship.

One for those who had lost their faith and would like to get it back.

And another for those who had a bad experience with church and were complaining about it.

They have names for each of the services: FINDERS, KEEPERS, LOSERS, WEEPERS.




So, what does worship mean to you?  Does it mean bowing before a king?  Does it mean giving all your time to someone or something?  Does it mean singing songs for 25 minutes each Sunday morning?  Does it mean giving an offering when the plate is passed?  Does it mean standing and raising hands?  There are many possible answers one may receive if this question were asked to any given congregation around the world.  The Bible does, however, define it fairly simply.


Let’s, for the next few minutes, put this in a different perspective.  Something real world.  Let’s talk about worship from a perspective that is familiar to the culture we live in today.  Let’s use money as the object.  This should be easy right?  We often hear people say that they know or have heard of someone who worships the almighty dollar.  What do we think or say about someone who worships this thing called money?


Here are some things that come to mind when we picture someone who worships money.  They are always talking or thinking about it.  They work jobs to get it.  They may work multiple jobs at the same time to find it.  They may devour their paycheck to “win” more.  They see things that it buys as necessities.  They judge themselves against others who have more or less of it.  How secure they feel is based on how much of it they have.  When they don’t have enough, security isn’t found.  They count it often and study what they have or what they don’t have and dream of getting more.  People who worship money are sometimes rich, but sometimes very poor.  They either like keeping it or love spending it on things that will show that they have “it.”  How much they have, or how many things their money has bought them, will be the standard by which they define themselves.


That’s what we picture when we see a person or entity that worships cash.  Let’s move that over towards a God discussion now.  When we think about worship in the God environment we often think about a musical praise time on Sunday mornings…don’t we?…and sometimes not much more.  Let’s imagine for a minute how worship would look if we simply switched the monetary terms for God terms in the paragraph above.


Here are some things that come to mind when we picture someone who worships God.  They are always talking or thinking about Him.  What they do, they do it for Him.  Sometimes they will serve Him in many different ways.  They give all they have for Him.  They see things that He views as important as necessary.  They view Him as a huge blessing in their lives…even though His gift of His son was never deserved.  He is their security.  When they are far from Him, they feel less secure because they begin to only think about themselves selfishly.  They look at and read His Word often and want to know more about Him.  Anyone who knows God is considered rich by spiritual standards.  People who worship God love to learn about Him and spend more time with Him so they can “give” Him away more often.  They allow God’s nature and their obedience to Him to define them.


You know, I didn’t once talk about a prayer service, or a praise time, or about traditional, or contemporary, or time limits, or name recognition, or awesome sermons or dynamic preaching, or audio visual technical stuff.   Here’s what the author of Romans 12:1-2 says:


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.


So here’s the question?  How is our worship?


Questions for Growth:

  1. Have you narrowly defined worship for yourself?
  2. If YES, then how has if determined your approach to God?
  3. Should ‘good’ worship, according to this verse, be based on a feeling?
  4. Should true worship be defined by Spirit let choices?
  5. How can every minute of your day be based on worship?
  6. Did Jesus worship God 24/7 365 or simply on a regular basis?  Similar question…Was worship “life” to Him?
  7. Is Jesus our example for living?  ……..

These are tough questions because they call into account everything that we do?…action and choice oriented.   Yes, simple…but tough.

Have fun growing!  Here’s a verse that let’s us know God’s perspective on what happens when we get this worship thing right.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 says this:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
    or the strong boast of their strength
    or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,



PS – I don’t consider myself an expert but just as someone who searching for truth and has found some nuggets to pass onto others.  If they’re helpful, pass them on too.

A Father’s Real Goal

Happy Father’s Day to all dad’s out there including my own.  I’m a dad myself, so the constant struggles and stresses of being a dad are constantly battling in my soul as well.  But there are lots of joys too.  This year I get to run with my son early on this Sunday morning.  Micah and I are going to be involved in the Canton Marathon.  We are both participating in the 10K.  Hopefully the rest of my family will be at the finish line to carry me off after I collapse.  Haha!

So what is dad’s role?  Through the years I’ve had lots of assumptions.  I’ve looked at my own experience growing up as a kid.  I’ve listened to old family stories from before I was born about what dads and grandpas did.  I’ve watched other dad’s as they walked this sometimes curvy road.  I’ve heard speeches and conferences and seminars about it.  Read books about it.  I’ve talked with many kids through 23 years of ministry about personal struggles with their dads.  Some stories are similar, but never are two the same.  I’ve also read the Bible about fatherhood.  It actually has a lot to say.  But when you put God’s expectations against what “experts” in our modern times say a dad’s role is, you get very different opinions.

Today’s wisdom says to be there for your kids.  Take time with your kids.  Both very true…but the media takes it further to define what success for a dad should be.  They show guys going after the big job with big money for the family.  I sometimes get the feeling that if a dad can’t afford a Disneyland vacation then he hasn’t provided well.  Some commercials talk about doing the things for the family that they ‘deserve.’  I heard one network marketer say that a few years of hard long-hour work, sacrificing time with your family, might pay off in the end with reward (meaning $$$).  Ok…what happens if you have a heart attack at 1.5 years into that plan?

Now, don’t get me wrong or hear what I’m not saying.  Sometimes there is time for hard work and sacrifice to supply a family with the necessities of life.  The Bible says that work puts food on the table (Proverbs 12:11, 14:23).  And…some of that time will be away from family.  But the chasing after riches is another thing that our society and media claims good.  The Bible is pretty clear on this too.  Hard work will be rewarded.  Yet I see dad’s who still struggle even when they are providing for their kids.  Some do so well they are providing for the great-grandkids yet there isn’t peace in their soul.  So…does the absence of this “peace” have anything to do with what many of us dads miss?

Why are we like this?  There’s one thing in the Bible that many of us dad’s overlook.  It has to do with raising Godly kids.  The question that is always there isn’t, “Have we done enough to support our family?”  It is, “Will our kids be in Heaven with us?”  A second closely follows, “Will they be bringing people with them as well?”

Moses had to feel incredible dad-like pressure when he led his family, and his nation, out of Egypt.  He was leading them, at God’s command and with His power and authority, from slavery into freedom.  Moses was the man looked to for wisdom.  Moses was looked to as the man who knew God and talked with God.  Through this and the various struggles, Moses saw clearly what was and was not important as he led his family, and God’s family, towards the Promised Land.  Isn’t that kinda like us dad’s today too?  We are to lead our family towards Heaven…towards God himself.  God places us in this spot and gives us all the tools to do it.  We need to learn how to use some of the tools, but they’re all there waiting to be picked up.

Moses’ big warning is this though.  He warns us to never forget about God.  He asks us, as parents, to remind our kids all the time about God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  He encourages us to talk about God all the time when we’re walking, working, eating breakfast or getting ready for bed.  Moses knew this one thing, if we slightly forget about God, we will start to search after things not of Him.  If we lose track of God and His goal of having everyone with Him in Heaven, then we start to form our own goals and strategies for “successful living.”  Moses saw how dangerous it is to forget about God. (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:12, 8:11).

So what’s this mean for us dad’s today?  I see two goals.  One, we want to do what we can to set our kids up to make the choice to follow God.  The tough part here?  We can’t make the choice for them, but we don’t want to fail on our part of the equation.  Secondly, we want to disciple our kids so that they know how to lead others to Heaven as well.  In the end, it really won’t matter where we’ve worked or how much money we’ve made or spent or what our degree is.  It won’t matter if our kids went to the right college or won all the races or got all the trophies.  What will matter is, whatever we or they choose to do, that we all did it remembering God and His principles, followed His direction,  chose His son as our Savior and chose to share Jesus with others.  Here’s how I know this.  Our Heavenly Father’s goal is plain.  He wants us in Heaven with Him.  He’s wants this so much that He asked His own son to die to make the way.

Let’s all try to set our goal and change our approaches so that our biggest endeavor is to take our family and friends to Heaven.  Tough?  Yes.  Rewarding?  Eternally.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,


A Reminder of your Trade.

The disciples of Christ witnessed what was probably a mind blowing and heart wrenching event.  Together with Jesus, they ate the Passover meal together, worshiping the Lord and His salvation.  It was to their amazement that as they worshiped and ate, the Son of God was moving His Father’s plan to a new phase…a New Covenant with mankind.

The events that followed that meal stretched them beyond what they were used to.  Jesus, on a normal day, would challenge them with unseen truth consistently.  But the next few days would be the biggest test of whether they truly believed and were truly committed.  In the end, after witnessing the near death beating of Jesus, His public humiliation as He drug His own cross on His bloodied back through the streets, His public execution on a hill outside the city, and His return to them in full body and spirit, they had to make a decision.  Were they committed to this cause or not?  The final piece of evidence was in.

The disciples were called by Jesus personally.  And they did leave many things behind for the period of about three years to follow and learn from Him.  Now the scenario was shifting.  They were going to be the leaders.  This movement of God rested on their decision to step up to the plate again.  They did.

Can you imagine what each communion time meant to them?  The book of Acts tells us that the early church met regularly to  ‘break bread’ together…to remember Jesus’ sacrifice.  Paul later writes in 1 Corinthians that when we get together to share the bread and juice, that we do it in a way where we truly remember the reason for it.  Sometimes we’re so far removed from the events of those few days that it doesn’t resonate with us.  Is it holy for us?  Have we come to a point, personally, where we’ve decided fully what the evidence shows?  There is no body in the grave.  We can trade everything about us for everything about Him.  Does your communion time help you remember what you’ve traded for, what you’ve willfully given up and the mission you’re on?  Or is it just a snack that you eat out of tradition?

For the disciples and the early church, I think it was a remembrance of what they had given up and more so what they had gained.  They knew without a doubt who and what they had committed to.  They were committed to their Creator. This world was no longer their home and destiny, and they had a mission to help others know these truths as fast as they could.  When they broke bread together, they remembered the Jesus who traded everything for their sake.  The bread and the juice now remind them that they are on a mission to trade their live’s for the sake of those around them…just as their best friend did for them.

So what are you reminded of at ‘communion’ time?  Do you simply say a short prayer asking God to forgive you for everything evil you did last week?  Do you look at a cross for focus?  Do you wonder if the juice is past it’s ‘freshness’ date?  Do you bow your head because the people around you are doing the same thing?  Or…do you take it fully known what you’ve left behind and what you’ve committed yourself to?  Do you take it thinking about the battles that will happen through coming days…and that you’re ready for it?  Do you take it asking God to show you things that you yet need to trade or sacrifice?  Do you take it truly saying, “I want to be like Jesus and look like Jesus and sound like Jesus no matter what happens?

You see, I don’t believe that Jesus wants us to just ‘remember.’  There needs to be a purpose in remembering.  And I don’t believe it’s just to remember how blessed we are or how forgiven we are.  Those things are great!  Don’t get me wrong!  But shouldn’t knowing those things drive us to ‘do’ something different outside of ourselves…unselfishly.  I think that when we break bread together, we remember that life not about us…about me, me, me.  It’s about the team we’re on, the church, and who we’re on mission for.  It’s completely about the mission to help people see the chance for forgiveness and eternal life.  The Lord’s Supper may very well be a sacred and reverent rally cry for us, Jesus’ army, the church.  It is to remember how lowly we are and how desperately in need of the sacrifice of Jesus we are.  It is to remind us that without Him we were nothing…and now that He as made us new, to move forward with grace and power and with His Spirit.  It’s to remember what He traded for us and what we choose daily to trade for His glory.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word!



Questions for Growth:

  • Do you consider the Lord’s Supper holy and sacred?
  • If yes, how does cause you to approach it?
  • Does remembering Jesus death, resurrection and example through the cross cause you to reflect on how you’re living and how you will live through the next days or weeks?  Short version…Is it a point of change for you?
  • What will you do this week to help you prepare more for your next time of “breaking of bread” with your church family so you can make it more holy and still more productive for you…as Christ intended it.

Do This

March 29, 2012 1 comment

As kids I think we can all remember times when our parents would say, “Do this.”  Sometimes we would simply respond with a straightforward ‘OK’ followed by action.  Sometimes we might have questioned our parents as to why in the world they would ask us to do whatever it was that needed doing.  And, still, at other times, we would adamantly say “no.”  We just didn’t want to do it.  However, for the most part, when someone in authority over us asks us to specifically do something, they have our attention.

Jesus asks two of His closest disciples to go ahead of Him and the rest into the city to begin preparations for the Passover meal and celebration.  He says that as they enter the city, they’ll see a guy with a water jar.  They were to follow “water jar guy” into a house and then say, “Master wants to eat with His disciples.”  It’s seems like a weird FBI Intelligence set up…but knowing Jesus…His plan was set and the players were in place.  John and Peter carefully followed the instructions and were soon beginning preparations for the celebration.

The time came for the meal, the meal commanded by God beginning after the last plaque in Egypt many years ago.  The disciples gathered around the table and Jesus jumps right in telling the disciples how much he has waited to eat this specific meal at this specific time.  They’ve all eaten this meal once each year their whole lives.  Why is this one any different?  Yes, it’s important, but Jesus must have seemed a bit more anxious, impatient, and possibly fidgety this time.

He took a cup and gave thanks and passed it around saying to share it with each other saying that this was the last time He would drink it like this with them until the New Kingdom came.  Then He took the bread and passed it around and said it was His body.  At this point the disciples are seeing that there is something different here.  Before this was about remembering the lamb that was sacrificed to cover or protect the Israelites from the death angel.  Now the meal is taking on a different shape.  Jesus is bringing the focus to Himself.  The cup again is lifted and Jesus now says that it is His blood…of the new covenant.  Those were words that I’m sure caught the disciple’s ears.  New Covenant.  Is Jesus changing this meal?

Six words that were spoken in the middle of these two illustrations of body and blood said it all.  All their lives, as well as any other Israeli who observed the Passover, knew that this meal was to remember the time when God gave the Hebrews their freedom from Pharaoh.  But now Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He said that this is a “new covenant.”  Things were shifting.  And what was this “new Kingdom” he was talking about?  Little did they know that within hours they would see the God Man taking the place of the sacrificial lamb.

With Jesus’ few words around this table, this meal of remembrance became more than a tribute to God’s actions in Egypt.  It was now about freedom from eternal separation and death.  This is worth noting.

After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven, we see the birthed church regularly participating in this meal…they didn’t want to wait for a once per year event.  This was too big.  This wasn’t about checking off a “holiday” that may have become ritualistic in many a person’s heart.  This was about remembering the biggest event in the history of the world…and taking in the meaning on a very personal basis.

How do you participate in this meal of the bread and cup?  Do you miss it when you’re away from it?  Is it a sacred part of your week or month?  I know that many church families share in communion in different ways and with different frequency…but the point is to always remember Him.  Moses warned in Deuteronomy 8:11, “Be careful that you do not forget the lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.”  Jesus doesn’t want us to forget Him.  Forgetting Him would mean that we move farther away from Him…farther away from His love and His forgiveness…which is our way to the Father.

Questions for Growth:

  • Why do you think Jesus chose this (communion) as a means to remembering Him?
  • Do you always approach the Lord’s Supper as though it is sacred?
  • Do you remember Jesus every minute of every day leading up your church’s communion time?
  • Do you think that Jesus realized that we are a forgetful people…and that we need reminders? Why do you think God uses sacred memory moments like this?
  • What do you need to do this time around so that communion can be even more special between you and your savior?

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,


Never Ever Forget

March 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Never Forget – Exodus 12:24-28, Mark 14:12-26



The man of the house finally took all the disabled umbrellas to the repairer’s. Next morning on his way to his office, when he got up to leave the street car, he absentmindedly laid hold of the umbrella belonging to a woman beside him, for he was in the habit of carrying one.

The woman cried “Stop thief!” rescued her umbrella and covered the man with shame and confusion.

That same day, he stopped at the repairer’s, and received all eight of his umbrellas duly restored. As he entered a street car, with the unwrapped umbrellas tucked under his arm, he was horrified to behold glaring at him the lady of his morning adventure. Her voice came to him charged with a withering scorn:

“Huh! Had a good day, didn’t you!”



Forgetfulness.  It stinks…and I’m and expert.  I walk into a room and forget why I’m there.  I often forget which jacket I place my car keys in.  I put receipts in my wallet so I won’t forget what they were for, only to forget that I need to look at them and months later thumb through them with confusion.  I try to use a calendar…but I forget where I put it last.  Sticky notes?  Yes, I put them in lots of places…but forget to look at them.  Names?  Let’s not even go there.  I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation.  Call it stress related, sleep related, busyness related…I’m forgetful.  Many of us struggle with this.


In kid’s worship, when we have communion time, the question is asked weekly why we take the bread and the juice.  The overwhelming answer is “to remember.”  And that’s the reason.  Way back in the book of Exodus, we see the Lord giving Moses and his fellow Israelites instructions on the Passover meal.  This meal was to be eaten on a specific evening as the “death angel” made his way through Egypt.  The blood of the Passover Lamb, sacrificed for this specific meal, was to be painted around the door frame of each house.  As the angel of God passed through the area, He would pass over those houses covered by the blood…saving that house from pain and heartache.  God also instructed to the Israelites that this meal, this ceremony, would be a lasting ordinance practiced regularly.  Why?  To never forget about what God did.


Many years later, Jesus is about to experience this meal and ceremony with His friends in an upper room in Jerusalem.  Mark 14 records this event.  During the meal, that was specially prepared as the Lord commanded in the book of Exodus, Jesus picks up some bread and some wine, blesses them, and calls for the disciples to remember Him now whenever they experience this meal.  Why?  Because He didn’t want them to forget what was about to happen.  He was about to become the perfect lamb sacrificed for us.  His blood would now cover us from the consequence of sin.


Another question that we always ask in kid’s worship at our church is this, “Who remembered Jesus every minute of last week?”  A couple well meaning kids often raise their hands.  They want to be able to do this because they instinctively know it’s the right thing to do…to remember Jesus.  But the truth is the truth.  None of us think about Jesus and His love and His grace every minute of every day.  We’re forgetful.  However, we’ve been given a gift.  The book of Acts record that the new Christians met regularly remembering Jesus and His sacrifice for their souls.


So the question is this.  Do we remember?  Do we take time on a regular basis to remember Him?  It doesn’t matter how a specific church family does this, the point is to remember.  Weeks after the horrific events of 9-11, bumper stickers and posters and banners and buttons started popping up everywhere across our country.  Remember what they said?  Never Forget!  We are called to never forget our Jesus, His sacrifice, and the redemption that He freely offers us.


Deuteronomy 6:12 “…be careful that you do not forget the Lord.”


Love, Serve, Spread the Word,



Questions for Growth:

  • Have you remembered Jesus every minute since last week?  Ok, that’s a question to center us.
  • Since we forget about Jesus, our very Creator, controller of the universe, able to make the sun stand still and judge our very soul, what do we do to help us remember?  What can we do?  Read Deuteronomy 6:1-12.
  • If we were to remember Jesus more often, how would that change our lives…our choices…our words?
  • Should we simply pass this off as forgetfulness?  Or should we be proactive?  Eternity hangs in the balance…maybe remembering that will helps us…remember.

Parenting 101 Part 3

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

In the last couple articles, I’ve discussed Christian parenting.  It’s been tough to write because as I write, I learn.  And what I’ve learned is that I’m struggling with this parenthood things as much as the next person.  When stacking up my strategy or successes in parenting against God’s model, I’m extremely weak.  We covered basic expectations in Part 1.  We covered some basic “how to’s” given from Moses out of Deuteronomy in Part 2.  This time let’s go one step further.  Baby steps!

God wants us to raise kids who love and know Him.  In order to do that, we need to be constantly reminding them of God’s ways.  How many times have you said, “Put that down!”  Moses’ instructions were to write God’s ways on doors, door posts, gates, walls…to talk about them all the time…and to tie them to our foreheads and hands.  OK, so some of you are asking the question, “How in world do I do that?  Posters?  Tattoos?”

I’ve got some simple answers.  I’m not sure how easy this will be to implement if you’re not used to it…but they are simple ideas.  And…..they are from the Bible.  Smile, we’re in this together.  First idea is simple.  And yes, it’s posters.  Haha…some of you didn’t expect that.  Here’s the idea.  Our little brains need reminders.  We forget easy.  That’s one reason we have the Lord’s Supper.  Sometimes we get caught in the rut of continually going through the same routine each and every day.  Sometimes we forget why we do things.  Posters, pictures, and notes taped to the wall help remind us.  3M found this to be true when they started making millions of dollars by selling pre-stickied pieces of paper called “sticky notes.”  What a concept!  There are some awesome artists who burn or carve scriptures into wood (P. Graham Dunn).  Does the name Thomas Kinkade ring a bell?  We love the beauty of the items these and other artists put out, but the hope is that the truth painted, sculpted or carved and hung on our walls will burn itself into our soul.  Moses’ big fear was that we’d forget about God.  My wife has become notorious about printing quotes and verses out and taping them to our door frames and bathroom mirrors.  Why?  So we’ll remember.  How many of us post and repost inspiration and scripture as our Facebook status update?  How many of us Tweet God’s truth on a regular basis?  We need reminders of God’s truth so when we’re up against temptation or inside of a dark time, we can remember the Truth.

So with all of that said, let’s just take Moses’ suggestion literally.  Let’s set ourselves up to remember.  We know we’re forgetful.  We just need to be proactive.  You don’t have to go out and buy a $100 piece of art work.  Just get out a piece of paper and a marker, write down a verse that you think God wants you to remember, and tape it to the fridge, or porch door, or to the dash board of the car.

Second…and this will be a tougher one for many of us.  Get to know your Bible.  Help your kids get to know their Bible.  It’s long been a rite of passage for a child to receive their first Bible.  But how many of our kids carry it daily…read it daily…even know where it is daily?  I know my kids have trouble with that.  Know why?  Because dad does too.  They will do what they see.  How many of us have our kids carry their Bibles to church services on Sunday but then forget about them the rest of the week?  My hand is raised…guilty.  I think this one starts with us as parents.  We need to be “meditating on His word…”  That’s from Psalm 1:2…the rest of the verse says “day and night.”  That’ll rearrange your schedule won’t it.  But the beginning of that verse starts by saying this, “Blessed is the man/woman who…”  Is that something we can do?  Heck yes!  And Satan will fight every step we try.  He will approve of our every excuse.  “I can’t understand it.”  “I’m too busy.”  “I already go to services.”  “I’ll just use the pew Bible.”

The question comes down to this.  Are you willing to fight for what you know God wants in your life?  Are you willing to fight for what you know God wants for your kids?  Will you do things that this world might consider radical or weird?  Are you willing?  We have a church family that spans the globe.  We’re not alone.  Hold on together…encourage each other…pray for each other.  That’s what the family is for.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,





I think we’ve been lied to.


“I’ve read the last page of the Bible.

It’s all going to turn out all right.”

~ Billy Graham







Is there a chance we’ve been lied to?  Do you think some, maybe with great intentions, have led us away from truth?  Do you think there could really be an ‘enemy’ with a plan to give us wrong definitions of things that seem good and worthy?  Do you think that we’d be able to see this lie as soon as it makes eye contact with us?  Or would we possibly be swayed into thinking it is honorable?


We’re in the middle of a politically charged election year.  Do you think that we’re going to hear fully the truth of anyone who’s running?  I’m not sure.  Each candidate, whatever office they’re running for, wants their best side to show…mistakes hidden.  We’re like that in a lot of ways as well.  We want people to know us for our strengths and not for our weaknesses.  In many ways we ‘advertise’ something we’re really not in order to please others or to feel good about ourselves.  We might not have evil objectives while doing this, but we act selfishly by nature.  We humans are fairly good at that at times.  There is goodness though that can shine through our darkness.


Sometimes organizations, governments and corporations tell us that they have the best ideas, products and plans for our lives.  They say we can depend on them to help us get through life.  And many times, that may be their aim…but is it really the truth?  The world would have us believe that its wisdom for our lives and for our families and for our businesses can provide security and success.  And again, maybe with the best intentions, people in the world lead us towards a lie.


“True love always protects, hopes, trusts and never gives up.”  Pieces of that last line have been used in greeting cards, love songs and by heroes in movies and books.  But it actually came from the pen of Paul as he described our living God.  If God is love, then it goes to show that God provides protection, provides complete hope, is completely trustworthy and is persistent to the end of His perfect plan.


Are there people who don’t believe in God that I can trust?  Sure there are.  Are there corporations that don’t know me personally but are trying to put out the best products to make my life better?  Absolutely.  Are there governments that truly want the best for their people, but don’t subscribe to a Creator God?  I certainly hope so.  Are there exceptions to what I’ve just said?  Yes, there are people and groups that are completely selfish and are only hungry for power and prestige.  They act with evil intent.  There are those that act to pull us away from truth, away from God, away from goodness and the felt need for forgiveness.  Plans such as these are evil.


There are governments that claim to protect us, and might do so here on this planet.  But they cannot provide eternal protection against Satan.  There are wise people and leaders we can trust.  But we cannot put our eternal soul in their trust because they are simply human and in need of the same forgiveness we need that only comes from a God we can trust.  There are family members and friends that we can put our hope in when they give us their word.  But God gives us a hope that is eternal…and Jesus provided a hope that conquers death itself.  There are people who will die for us, but there is already one who has died who didn’t need to.  Jesus was persistent unto death for our sake.  He took the pain.  He humbled himself, being Himself God, and was nailed to a piece of wood to die.  But that’s not the end of the story.  His resurrection over bodily death proved to us that He is someone who can protect our eternal soul.  He’s one to trust…He kept his word.  We can hope in His claim that one day we will be with Him forever…death doesn’t control Him…He hold the keys.  And we can persevere like He did because we know that this world isn’t really our home.


And here is the best part of all.  We as Christians have the opportunity every day to show people the truest and best one who can protect them, give them hope, something to trust in…simply a love that never gives up.  It’s like we’re warriors in a battle.  The world, as good as the world can get, cannot surpass God’s goodness.  And the evil one wants us to simply stop at the world’s goodness and call it a day.  See Satan doesn’t need us to be evil…he just needs us to deny God’s perfection and plan.  We can be really, really good people, and never truly show Jesus.  There’s the battle.  Everyday we’re able to show Jesus and His perfect love…we take the battle to the enemy.  And remember…the war is won.  As Billy Graham’s quote at the top of this article says, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”  Let’s share this with everyone we know.


Love-Serve-Spread the Word,




Questions for Growth:

  • If God provides perfect protection, what does that look like?  And how do we share that protection with others?
  • If we can have perfect hope in God, what does that look like?  And how do we share that hope with others?
  • If God gives us something to trust in…why should we?  And how do we share with others that they can trust Him too?
  • What does persistent, never failing love look like?  What would that look like to our friends and family if we were to try and mimic that…to be like Jesus…to them?


Evil is Real

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Evil is Real – “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  1 Corinthians 13:6

  • Romans 12:21 ~ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
  • Deuteronomy 30:15 ~ See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…
  • Luke 6:45 ~ A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.
  • Psalm 23:4 ~ Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…
  • James 3:16 ~ For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
  • Proverbs 21:15 ~ When you do what is fair, you make godly people glad.  But you terrify those who do what is evil.

Just recently, in our American political arena, the concept of evil was brought up.  A specific American leader, whom I won’t mention by name, said in no uncertain terms that there is evil in the world and Satan’s plan is to destroy us.  Yes, this was said publicly.  The backlash he received from making the assumption that there are things that are evil and things that are good and that Satan is real was amazing…but not surprising.  Many in journalistic circles were really questioning why someone would even think that there is such a thing as evil.  Calling something evil is so mean and callous.  Who gave this political figure the right to call something wrong and evil?  Yes, these were many responses and questions surrounding this man’s statement that evil is in our world.  1 John 5:19 says that if you a Christ follower you are God’s children and that the rest of the world is under the control of the evil one.  Evil is named.  Numerous times Jesus, recorded in the Gospels, point evil out.

The above Bible verses state the concept of evil…and those are just a few of many.  I think at this point we need to define ‘evil’ so we can best understand the verse we’re focusing on.  Evil is that which keeps us from God.  It is the thing that we need forgiveness for.  It creates separation between humankind and their Creator.  Evil prevents us from residing close to our Lord.  Jesus came for a reason.  His purpose was to defeat evil.  Over and over our Bible, God’s word, calls out evil as that which God hates.  And why would God hate evil?  It is the opposite of what we were created for.  Evil pulls us away from God.  The exact opposite of the relationship we see first played out between God and Adam and Eve.  After evil entered the heart of the woman and man respectively, they needed to leave His presence.  Perfection and imperfection cannot mix.  They are like oil and water.

Paul writes that love “does not delight in evil.”  Sounds poetic.  ‘Delight,’ at first glance, seems like a not-so-heavy word.  When I hear this word, my ‘stuck in this world brain’ thinks of someone smiling after eating chocolate pudding.  Delight.  I see a child giggling after opening a Christmas present.  Delight.  I don’t think this is what Paul meant though.  The Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it this way, “…Love finds no joy in unrighteousness.”  Now that certainly spins a different picture.  Don’t get me wrong, I know what our translations are trying to say.  Remember, Paul is giving us a word picture of Jesus in the chapter of the Bible.  Paul is giving us what Jesus is and is not.  And if Jesus is God, and God is love, and God is against all evil, then the mere hint of evil shouldn’t even bring a grin to our face.  But it does…doesn’t it?

How many of us have LOL when a comedian tells a rude joke?  How many of us have ever smiled when we see someone we disagree with fail?  How many of us have ‘delighted’ in something that we know is a sin?  How many of us have intentionally acted selfishly and enjoyed our personal gain at the expense of another?  How many of us have enjoyed a time when we were bashing someone else because of their sin?  Ever enjoyed a good gossip story?  How many of us have used anger to ‘feel’ better when someone did something wrong to us?  Pride?  How many times have we smiled at ourselves when we boast of our wisdom, money or strength rather than knowing God personally?  How many of us claim an arrogance that places us above other people in our minds?  You see where this is going right?  Paul’s little “delight in evil” phrase is completely the right thing to picture when we’re talking about the opposite of true love.

Paul quickly writes the opposite of this statement of evil.  Pure love rejoices with truth.  There is such a thing as absolute truth.  This truth rests in Christ Himself.  The evil one is called the Father of all Lies.  God is real.  Man was created by Him and for Him.  Evil keeps us away.  Christ can forgive our evil sin.  Christ is the only way to return to a perfect relationship with God.  Christ came to serve for this reason.  We are to be like Christ.  That’s the truth.  And if Jesus doesn’t smile at evil, then we shouldn’t either.  We should rejoice, be glad, be overjoyed, jump for joy, be extremely happy in the ways of God … no matter what the world thinks of us.

Simply put, Truth drives us closer to God.  Evil pulls us away from Him.  Now this won’t be easy.  A Star Wars fan I am…here’s a quote from the series, “Evil flourishes where it is not opposed…”  Since our nature is evil, it is easy to sin.  It is easy to delight in evil.  That’s why Jesus had to do something against it.  We just can turn away from it, it is a fight.  It is something we will struggle with.  But the first step in fighting well is recognizing and knowing who or what you’re fighting against.  We are to fight and oppose evil by doing good (Romans 12:21).  Will this be hard?  Yes, it will.  It will because everywhere we see people, even through history, doing good in the name of Jesus, they’ve been persecuted and used and abused.  So will it always be cotton candy and Ferris wheels?  No.  Will there be times of extreme joy?  I think that’s what Paul talks about when he says, “rejoice with truth.”  Throughout the book of Acts, you’ll read of where the disciples were ecstatic about being flogged and thrown in jail!  They knew they were fighting evil and winning when that happened.  They rejoiced.

Are you willing?  Can you commit to this kind of righteousness?  It’s what we’re called to and it’s what we were made for.  We were made for times such as this.  Let’s go, with God moving through us as the church, and confront evil face to face.  Jesus said, “…the gates of Hell will not overcome…” His church.  That’s a promise for you and for me.

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,


Questions for Growth:

  • Have you ever thought of evil extensively?  By this I mean everything from the slightest grin from hearing an off color joke to murder?
  • What types of evil do you personally fight against?…within yourself?
  • How will you stand up against evil this week?…Can you think of something that will probably happen…a situation that is usual for you to be in, where you can confront evil with good?
  • What ‘good’ will you do instead when this evil approaches? (Defeat Evil with Good)
  • Who will you try to speak truth to this week?  What will you say?

No Room for Bullying – Not Rude & Not Selfish

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

No Room for Bullying – Not Rude & Not Selfish

1 Corinthians 13:5

  • I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.
  • I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  • I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter.
  • How about never? Is never good for you?
  • It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a word you’re saying.
  • Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  • I’m already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
  • Ahhh… I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again

Funny?  Maybe for bumper stickers.  But may I say that if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a phrase such as these, you know how it feels.  Is it any wonder why Paul wrote about rudeness and selfishness when he discussed the perfect love of God?  These two topics are complete opposites of the command for us to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).  It goes against Paul’s exhortation to ‘consider others better than’ ourselves (Philippians 2:3).  God is in the business of valuing people and lifting others up.  Rudeness and selfishness do nothing to lift or love a neighbor.

Bullying happens when someone acts or speaks for their selfish need.  It really has nothing to do with the other person…but in the end has everything to do with the other person.  The person who is intentionally rude or intentionally selfish has a need for power.  This person wants to be heard, wants to be laughed with, and possibly thinks that the only way to success is through getting just what they need.  In reality, the potential is that they take life and peace from those around them.

There is a sadder truth here as well.  The one who is rude and selfish might have never been told that they have eternal worth…so much so that someone died for them.  Maybe they’ve been told over and over that there’s nothing important about them.  Maybe their environment has been nothing but hell.  They’ve grown up not knowing that they were created to be a best friend of God.  So they act out accordingly, mimicking what they’ve seen and heard.  Doing wrong things defensively thinking that it’s helping them.

Let’s move to the one who is on the receiving end of selfish acts and words.  I’ve seen so many kids through my years in ministry whose faces are always downcast.  They eat up the attention our ministry leaders give them.  They talk nonstop because someone actually took a few minutes to ask them how their day was or to tell them they were wearing really cool shoes.  And yes, when I say kids I mean all the way to college age and even older.  Truth is there’s no age that selfishness or rudeness doesn’t affect.

Can you see what the lie is here?  Satan has told many of us, somewhere along the line, that getting a laugh at the sake of someone else is OK and worthwhile.  We’ve been told that what we want in life is more important…maybe more so than anyone’s needs…and it’s OK.  We’ve been lied to.

Here’s the truth.  Perfect love is not rude or selfish.  The other truth is this…and this is the hard one…it’s a choice to not be rude and not be selfish.  Some people may say this, “But I have weakness to be sarcastic.”  Maybe this, “I’ve always been driven to get what I want.”  Paul makes no allowances for a personality test we may have taken years ago.  Love is love.  It is what it is.  And God wants us to look more and more like his son Jesus so others get to see Him and maybe want Him.  For some this choice to not be rude and to put away selfish tendencies is going to be hard, but that doesn’t mean we give up or not work hard.  Remember the end goal in God’s eyes?  God wants us to be in Heaven with Him forever…and to take as many people as possible with us.  The more we love others like 1 Corinthians 13 calls for, the more God has a chance to use us as an open and willing servant.  Open hands and an open heart…just like Jesus.  That’s the truth.  : – )

Love-Serve-Spread the Word,


Questions for Growth:

  • Have you been bullied, talked down do, and trampled on because of someone else’s selfishness?  How did that feel?
  • Have you bullied, been rude, trampled on someone to get what you want?  How did that feel?  What was the look on the other person’s face?
  • Do you have personality that loves rude sarcasm or rude jokes?  How can you change that…today?
  • Do you have a personality that is easily broken?  How can you lift your heart even though you may have people around you who regularly beat you up?  (Quick hint:  The Bible has the story about how important you are.  The church isn’t perfect, but it’s a group of people struggling with the same things you do.)
  • Do you have a friend who can be honest with you when you let something slip that is out of place?  If not, who could that be?  Will you talk to them this week to watch your back and call you out if you fall?
  • Try memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  The Bible says that if we can meditate on God’s word enough, it will be there for us as a reminder of how to live daily.  And memorizing also gives the Holy Spirit more things to use that we’ve planted in our own brains.
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