Speaking of Heavenly Things...
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.
Most of us can probably rattle off this verse. It's in there for me better than the Lord prayer is. When was the last time you looked at it with fresh eyes?
In this section of scripture a Pharisee named Nicodemus came to Jesus and told Him that the pharisees knew that Jesus was a teacher who had come from God because of the miraculous signs that Jesus was performing.
Jesus responds with telling Nicodemus about being "born again". It's not a Christian saying, it's a Bible term. Jesus says that in order to see the Kingdom of God a person must be born again. This is astounding to Nicodemus. Nick seems to think that Jesus is speaking in earthly literal terms. Jesus goes on to say that Nick should not be surprised at His saying 'You must be born again.'
Nick still doesn't get it. "How can this be?" he asks in verse 9.
Jesus kind of rips Nick at this point by saying, "You are Israel's teacher and you don't understand these things?"
Jesus goes in to this: I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one have ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - The Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
So stop for a second. Jesus is speaking of HEAVENLY things. Things that He understands because He has been there. I know some of you are annoyed with me talking about Cambodia all the time, but that's cause it's awesome. And you have no reference point regarding it other than what you learn and what I tell you. Much the same way Jesus is telling us about an awesome place that He has seen first hand, and can tell us about. He's speaking from experience, He's speaking from truth.
He even says, I'm speaking to you about heavenly things. I'm telling you awesome secrets of the world, and spiritual realms.
Then He lays this one down on us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Today, I want you to understand the weight of the gospel. I want you to understand the weight of John 3:16. It is a supernatural, spiritual, heavenly thing.
Read that with fresh eyes today and respond accordingly. Be born again...of Spirit not of flesh.
What kind of a man says, "I am the true vine."?
None of the prophets before Jesus ever said anything remotely close to that. None of them ever said anything like "I am the Way, The Truth, and the Life"
That's crazy talk! Unless it's true.
If it's true it warrants investigating and seeing why this person would say such a thing.
This week I want to look at John 15: 1-4.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
If God the Father is the gardener, and Jesus is the true vine and I'm somehow associated with this garden...I want to be alive, and I want to remain, and I don't want to be cast out.
These are just the initial feelings that I have when I go into this.
Here's is what I want you to ask yourself:
1. Do you bear fruit as a follower of Jesus Christ?
2. Are you clean?
3. Are you remaining in Jesus?
This is a simple yet very difficult picture of how our lives should be attached to Christ.
In verses 5 through 8 the following is addressed:
If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bera much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
There's a really boring video that I watched on youtube about grafting one type of pecan tree into another one.
Basically what you can do is take one type of tree, and cut it, and put it into the other tree so that the one type of tree becomes part of the bigger tree.
I think about myself and how I was lost, and broken, and destructive and how the gardener grafted me into the true vine Jesus Christ. Before I was dying and lost and destructive. Now I'm bearing fruit, and bringing glory, and part of something that matters.
Romans 11:17-21 - If some of the branches have been broken off, and you though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Where do you stand on this?
Have you been grafted in to the nourishment of a relationship with Jesus Christ, being pruned by God the Father the gardener?
Or are you a dying sapling struggling to get by on your own?
Be grafted into Christ today. Live in the nourishment that comes from a life lived with Him.
Whatever You Ask...
I grew up watching a lot of TV evangelists. My mom was really in to them...still is actually. It wasn't uncommon for me to hear on a Sunday morning, "God's people should be blessed!" and the implication was that God's people should be wealthy. What this guy meant was that he thought God's people should be driving around in Cadillacs and wearing the nicest clothes and living in the nicest house. And it wasn't uncommon for me to hear the following verse thrown out to support that:
John 14:14 - If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
Now, I could see how that would make people think that, but there are two things that I think we need to look at.
1. When I ask Jesus for ANYTHING i want in His name...I don't get it. That's just the truth.
2. That's not was Jesus was saying here.
In the verses from 14:9-12 Jesus is referring to belief and Him being IN the Father. Verse 12 for me is the doosey.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.
Did you hear that?
This makes me think of Matthew 7:22 and 23 - Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
So on one side Jesus is saying that if we believe in Him we will be doing the same works that He did.
Then on the other side of it He's saying, "sure, there are people that do amazing works...even works that I have done, but I never knew them."
That makes my faith seem...weak, faithless, without something.
Am I doing the works of Jesus? Am I healing the blind, healing the sick, casting out demons? It would be easy to say, "oh no Jesus really meant, just the 'fruit of the spirit' but that's not what He is saying. He's speaking in the context of believing and seeing. It's very evident that Jesus is speaking of miraculous works.
That makes me question my faith a bit. It should make you question yours too.
The punch line...
If you believe in Jesus, you'll do the same works He did.
Think about it.
Maybe today, you don't really believe Jesus the way He's calling you to. You might believe Him the way the people around you do...but that's not what He's calling you to either. He's calling you to belief in Him...on His terms.
Way. Truth. Life
I've been reading over John 14 a lot lately and i'm amazed by the stuff that it has in it.
John 12:23 - Jesus replied, "The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. The truth is, a kernel of wheat must be planted in the soil. Unless it dies it will be alone - a single seed. But it's death will produce many new kernels - a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. All those who want to be my disciples must come and follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And if they follow me, the Father will honor them. Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, 'Father, save me from what lies ahead'? But that is the very reason why I came! Father bring glory to your name."
So when was the last time you went to church, or went to a big stadium event where they had a gospel presentation? Did anything like the following happen?
- Bow your head and close your eyes, and repeat after me...
-Fill out this card if you want to receive Christ...
-Come to the front and pray with one of our pray leaders...
Compare those things with what Jesus is saying here in this text.
vs. Those who love their life in this world will lose it Those who despise their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
What!? That's not very "seeker friendly" is it? That isn't very good for church growth I don't think.
It's almost like Jesus wasn't concerned with growing a church. It seems to me that he was more concerned with (go to verse 2 Father bring glory to Your name.
The beginning of this section of scripture starts out with, "The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory."
What is Jesus concerned about here?
He's concerned about His Father's glory.
He's concerned about His glory
He's concerned about speaking the truth about following Him. Not filling up a church.
We're about to celebrate easter, and I think it's important to think on what it means to follow Jesus.
Have you "died" to yourself?
Are you willing to "die" for what you believe?
Are you "following" Jesus?
Do you "despise" your life?
Leaders, I'm going to ask these simple questions to my group on Thursday night. I'm not going to coach them through "what I really mean" on it. I'm going to throw these things about there like Jesus did. I'm not going to worry about reading body language so that I can catch those that fall through the cracks. I'm going to preach this out, and I'm praying that the Holy Spirit would take care of the work that He says He will.
Challenge your group with this passage.
Ask those in your group if they think they are following Christ. Ask them if they understand what Jesus is saying in this section.
My prayer is that we would see people turn to Him, regardless of the cost.
He died for the glory of the Father.
I want to talk about 2 Corinthians 3:12-18.
First we're going to need some back ground story to this section of scripture.
Exodus 34:29-35 - It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the testimony were in Moses' hand as he was coming down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoked to them. Afterward all the songs of Israel came near, and he commanded them to do everything that the Lord had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take off the veil until he came out; and whenever he came out and spoke to the sons of Israel what he had been commanded, the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.
So later on when the glory of the Lord stopped shining on Moses and he kept putting the veil on his face to that people would think that he was still in the glory of the Lord.
So here is where we jump into Corinthians...
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 - Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
One of the things we learned from an earlier study was that whenever you see a "therefore" you need to look back and see what it was there for.
I think one of the reasons this section of scripture jumped out at me was because there are a couple of "one off" verses that I have used and I have used people use before but I never got the context, or they were misused and out of context when used. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom" is one of them. It's in songs, and it's fun to sing out, but what does that really mean to our life?
Okay, so jump back to the "therefore" (this will all come together here in a second).
Paul is contrasting the Law that was given to Moses to live by in the Old Testament vs. the New Covenant in Christ.
In verses 7-10 Paul is saying "if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones came with glory". Basically if Moses had to veil his face because of the glory of the Lord with a message of a law that there was no way to keep (ministry of death) how much more so will there be glory attached to a "ministry of life"? In verse 8 is says: how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?
9 (very key verse here) - For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness about in glory.
Look at the contrast! Old Testament is likened to a ministry of condemnation. New Testament is likened as a ministry of righteousness.
Glory in the Old. More glory in the New!
So...on to verse 12.
the hope that Paul is talking about is the hope in that we are not bound by a law that is condemning us to death, but we are bound to the Spirit that is "condemning" us to freedom! What a hope! That is why we use great boldness in our speech...
and are NOT like Moses.
But...there is a veil over some of our hearts. We hear the religious nonsense. We hear the "to do list" of things we have to do to get into heaven, but we still have a veil over our heart.
Something hasn't "clicked" yet.
You've heard it said that sometimes heaven is missed by a person by only 6 inches...
That is the veil that we are talking about.
From veiled to unveiled
From condemnation to righteousness
From bondage to freedom
From glory to glory
From religion to relationship
From darkness to light
From wherever you are to Christ
I know this is a lot of words, but the heart of where I want us to go this week is to lead our riders from where they are to Christ.
Push a little harder (being led by the Spirit) to encourage people to turn to Christ.
The study this week is for you leaders. Pray about how you will lead your group to Christ this week.
I'll be talking about the veil over their hearts. My prayer is that they take them off by turning to Christ.
Let me know if you have questions. I pray that this was not too confusing.
Pssst...what's that smell?
On my trip to Cambodia back in October of last year I had the privilege of following a pastor of a ghetto area around for a brief tour of the area in which he ministered. The area that he ministers is a ghetto in Cambodia's largest city and what I saw was very biblical.
2 Corinthians 2:14-17 -
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God
As this pastor took me around his village I saw a few amazing things...
When this pastor was asked how many people were in this particular community his answer was 2000 families and possibly 5000 individual people. When this pastor was asked how many of the 5000 people he knew, he responded with a matter of fact, "All of them"!
It was as if it wasn't an option for him to not know everybody in his potential sphere of influence. That's a convicting thing coming across my ears.
The next thing that I was amazed at was him actually showing us that he knew everybody in his community. As we came upon a brothel he instructed us that he would not be telling us about it as we walked past it because the people that were outside of it and ran it could speak english. As we walked past it we saw kids playing in front of it (it was day time) just like any other kids in front of a ghetto type house. The difference here is that these kids were sold for sex on a daily basis. After we passed the pastor made a comment about a girl that stood out to all of us due to her closed off nature. "She's new" he states matter of fact. "How do you know?" we ask. "Because I've never seen her before" he responds. This pastor knows his community well enough to know every person in it...to the extent that when a new person is in his community he knows them because he hasn't known them before.
That is a convicting and humbling thought. How many of those that God has entrusted to your care are you truly caring for?
The last thing that convicted me about his walk through his community was the "aroma of death and life" that he put off.
In one instance when we followed him through his community a 4-5 year old girl and her mother came out of a shanty of a shack. The girl fixed herself to his leg in affection and the mother hugged his neck with trust. Immediately I saw the aroma of life to life from the pastor to the small family.
Not 3 buildings from there I saw a brothel owner sarcastically tell me "I've got no girls for you today." because I was with the pastor. His very presence offended her, and caused her to lash out. He was an aroma of death to death to her.
To what extent do I concern myself with people liking me? Do I do it to the extent where I'm no longer an aroma of Christ? Do I worry so much about "being all things to all people" that I no longer share the message of the cross with them? Sometimes I think I do.
The only saving force on this planet is Jesus Christ. The only thing that can save people from their sin is a faith in Jesus Christ. I truly believe that. The problem is I'm still trying to save people. I'm still trying to do the saving work of the Holy Spirit...as if I don't truly trust Him to do what he said he would do.
Make no mistake about it, we will be the smell of death to those who are perishing and we will be the smell of life to those who are being saved. It's not our job to figure out what we smell like to others...that's the Lord's job.
This week: Be the aroma of Christ. Be the aroma of death to those who are perishing and the aroma of life to those who are being saved.
Preach the gospel clearly this week. Roman road, the bridge, or just tell people about why you follow Christ...but make sure those in your boat know that you are fork in the road. That if they're getting past you they are going to have to go one way or another.
To the glory of the King.
True Life by Jordan Sudberry
So we have been on this kick lately of simple devos that have a pretty gnarly punch line, and can make you feel a bit uncomfortable with conviction.
Lets keep it up!
Last week was all about sharing the gospel with people using a common activity, sport, etc. as a medium to strike up a conversation.
Pretty cool example for me this week was I had a buddy from my hockey team come over to watch a Stars game with some of us. He commented on how religious themed that my house was, and that was a great way to talk to him about what I believe. The best part was I didn’t even have to try God just put the opportunity in place.
So how much does your life show that you love Jesus?
Would people know without you telling them?
Mark 12:28-34 is probably the best example of Christian living in the bible.
So a hotshot teacher of Law, trying to test Jesus, asks Him what the most important commandment is? Jesus responds very simply with the Lord your God is One. Meaning that He should be first, before anything, regardless of what’s going on, period. Secondly Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. The depth of the description says everything to me; God wants everything, not just part of us. He wants the entirety of our being to worship him, and keep that at the forefront of our lives. Lastly, Love your neighbor as yourself. Put others first, even when it’s inconvenient or you don’t want to. That’s showing the love of Christ to others, and even people that don’t share a relationship with Jesus can recognize it. Then the teacher responds restating what Jesus had just told him. To his reply, Jesus says, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” That’s crazy to me. Jesus just point blank tells the teacher to follow him. Think about how amazing that must have been to be told by Christ that you get the picture, now its time to follow me?!
So does your life scream that you love Jesus with your whole being?
Are you ready to fully commit your life to the plans God has for you?
Think about it.
The Documentary Evidence
I skipped the second chapter because it was similar to the first (although I recommend you read it as well because it has some great faith building points in it) and moved right to the Documentary Evidence in chapter 3.
Strobel starts out with the critique that it's hard to trust the Bible when there are no surviving originals of the New Testament texts. His point: "If all we have are copies of copies, how can I have any confidence that the New Testament we have today bears any resemblance whatsoever to what was originally written?
The response that Metzger gave Strobel was that this is an issue that isn't unique to the New Testament. The difference that the New Testament has is that is has so many copies that have survived.
The importance of this is that the sheer volume of copies corroborates the accuracy of the originals. Especially when copies are found from different geographical areas and in different languages early on.
Another area the New Testament has strength when compared to other ancient writings is that there are copies that have been found that were written within a couple of generations of the writing of the originals, where in the case of other texts, five, eight or ten centuries have passed between the writing of the original and the earliest surviving copy.
Here's a fun figure.
When comparing ancient manuscripts of the new testament to the ancient manuscript that has the most copies of it, the runner up is Homer's Iliad.
Homer's Iliad has less than 650 Greek manuscripts and the copies come from almost 1000 years from the original dating of the epic!
Compare the New Testament to this and you have over 5000 New Testament Greek manuscripts! We're not even talking about manuscripts from other languages either.
The total number of Greek manuscripts that are in existence are 5,664
There are 8,000-10,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts.
8,000 in Ethiopic, Slavid and Armenian.
In total there are about 24,000 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament in existence.
A quote from an F.F Bruce sums it up well. "There is no body of ancient literature in the world which enjoys such a wealth of good textual attestation as the New Testament."
Leaders take what you want out of "Examining the Errors" and and how the "canon" was formed.
I'll address them as my group needs them addressed.
If you have any questions let me know.
Lets make sure we make it about Jesus. Once again, keeping it simple.
Eyewitness Accounts of Jesus
We're going to start in with our series on The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.
A big struggle that a lot of the people I have talked to is whether or not we can really trust the bible to be all that it claims to be. Is it really the living word of God? Or, is it just a good story book?
Part One: Fact or Fiction?
As wakeboarders, we think a lot about style. Was that grab poked enough? How can I make this trick any more steezy? Is this board graphic cool? Think about how the styles of wakeboarding have changed from when wakeboarding was first invented to now. You wouldn’t even recognize the sport. It’s the same with literature. The bible was written in a very different style than other books of its time. The detail put into the scripture just wasn’t done yet; fictional books didn’t include details. Now think about the law, the temple, the plagues…The list of extremely detailed stories in the Bible goes on and on. The bible isn’t fiction. It just isn’t stylistically possible.
B. The Old Testament
A lot of things from the Old Testament have been proved by modern geologists. Consider the flood. Water covered the entire earth. Evidence for this is everywhere. Scientists have discovered fossils of 300 pound oysters on top of mountains as well as fossils of fish in the middle of continents. Furthermore, several other ancient cultures (ex: Babylonians, Hindus) have legends depicting a worldwide flood.
Another example of evidence of the truth of the Old Testament is found in the story of the tower of Babel. This is where God made many languages to confuse the builders of the tower. There are actually secular poems that support this. One poem I found says that there was peace and harmony until their ‘god’ changed languages and created confusion. Don’t believe me? Do some research on it! I’m serious.
From the Sumerian epic entitled "Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta" (21 BC):
Once upon a time there was no snake, there was no scorpion,
C. New Testament
It has been accepted that Jesus was actually a person, so I’m not going to talk about that. The kind of life he lived, however, is a touchy subject. Many people say that all of the miracles of the bible are false and made up because science can’t prove them. However, even some scientists have admitted that this is the case because science only checks for natural causes. Supernatural occurrences can be neither proved nor disproved by science. “Science cannot address the possibility of supernatural phenomena.” That is a quote from my biology textbook.
Another common grievance with the bible is that the acts of Jesus are myths made up by the disciples to advance their social status and power. This is based on the fact that the gospels were written between 50 and 70 years after the death of Jesus. This doesn’t prove anything though, because if the acts of Jesus were made up they would have to have waited until all of the eye witnesses and family members of the eye witnesses had died. This is not the case. Many of the eye witnesses were still alive as well as their children and grandchildren. The bible specifically mentions several of the witnesses of how Jesus lived; if anything were made up, the people would have said something. The bible never could have gotten the power that it has if it were made up.
Jesus’ death is another accepted fact in history. He was really crucified. It’s what happened next that is the center of debate. Jesus rose from the dead. A few ideas on this: The first witnesses were women. Think back to the time period; a woman’s testimony didn’t do anything but weaken a case in court. Why would the bible make up that women saw Jesus back from the dead? Secondly, even some of the disciples doubted and didn’t trust that Jesus rose until they felt the holes in his hands. The fact that the disciples, men who would have significant leadership roles in the new church, doubted their savior rising is a HUGE negative. Why would the bible include all of these details that make it seem like a weaker story to men? The bible is the living word of God; it is truth. That is why we can trust it.
There are all kinds of evidences in the historical accuracy of the bible. This week set some time aside and look into a few.
Part Two: I am not greater than God.
People often express that Christianity can’t be real because certain aspects of it just don’t seem right to them.
EXAMPLE: I like what the bible says about the god of love, but I don’t get this. How can a ‘loving god’ send someone to Hell for all eternity? That doesn’t seem right so it can’t exist!
When we say things like that about Christianity, we are basically saying that any god that does exist is confined to what we think is right. Are you perfect? No. Humanity is flawed! Why would you confine your god to your own flaws? I want a god that I don’t always understand. That is the god of the bible. He is perfect.
So, if God created this perfect truth, His word, there is no way for it to perfectly correspond with every part of our IMPERFECT HUMAN culture. That is why different cultures like different parts of the bible. That doesn’t mean that the bible isn’t true; if anything it only strengthens the case.
Part Three: The Importance of Context Clues and Interpretation.
Read any one sentence from any page off of any book from any shelf of any library. While you may understand what the sentence says, you won’t understand what the author meant by the sentence or how it is supposed to be interpreted because you don’t know any of the context. You don’t know anything about the overall paragraph, chapter, or book. How can we expect to successfully do this with the bible?
Lots of people come up with crazy and just plain FALSE ideas about what Christianity is. This is why it is important to put verses into context and interpret them correctly. Many verses can appear to say one thing when you just read the verse; however, they really mean something totally different when you put them in to context. So if you are confused on a verse, make sure you have read the surrounding paragraphs or even the whole chapter it is in.
Another important thing to consider is how the author meant for the verse in question to be interpreted. Consider Luke. He wrote Luke and Acts. He was a doctor who was obsessed with getting all of the facts and getting them all right. So, his books are meant to be read literally. However, if you look at King David’s Psalms or King Solomon’s Song of Songs you will see that they are poetry and should be read as such.
Part Four: So now what?
Trust god’s word. It’s really what it says it is.
Double check the things people tell you they believe about scripture.
Don’t get hung up on the small things. Major on the majors.
GET INTO GOD’S WORD.
Over the weekend I had the unique (I say unique because it was only the 2nd time I've been there) opportunity to go to Bull Shoals lake in Arkansas.
How can I paint a picture for you?
I would show you pictures, but Rod's camera got broke while we were there so possibly no pics.
Okay so back to painting a picture:
Take the water surface area of Grapevine, Lewisville, Ray Hubbard, Lavon...and Worth just for giggles...
Now, mash them all up into a play dough ball.
Okay, now stretch them out like a rubber band...and let it go.
There you now have the size and possible shape of Bull Shoals.
You get the idea.
Okay, now lets get the clarity of the lake locked in.
Hmmmm...Fill your kitchen sink with water. That's how clear Bull Shoals is.
Now surround it with beautiful pines and trees.
Set the depth of the lake at double or triple what you would expect on your normal lake.
Now imagine a lake that you can find an innumerable amount of wind blocks on...
Take all wake boats off the lake except the one you are on...
Add people that are genuinely excited to see wakeboarders
And you have Bull Shoals.
I painted all of this to remind you of one of the basics of why we love this sport.
Being in creation.
Rod, Robbie and I rode until we didn't want to ride anymore. Then after the desire to get better and progress was gone, God gave us the most beautiful sunset and butter set I've ever had.
As I rode it was like Jesus was with me on the water. I rode 4 feet from the shore, in 4 feet of crystal clear water.
The water was so glassy that the sound of the board slicing through the water drowned out the roar of the motor of the boat.
When I looked down into the water I saw myself, and the sky and clouds above me.
I felt as though I was surrounded by my God and the things that He has intended for me.
I understand that here in the DFW area and maybe in your neck of the woods too you have noise. Airplanes, boats, fishermen, other wakeboarders and the like to deal with...
Take time this week on the water to be surrounded by Christ.
Find yourself in a place where you worship Him while you are a rider.
Location location location.
Peter found himself sinking with his hand outstretched in the storm.
I will find myself walking on the water with my hands raised high in the beauty.
I will worship you Lord Jesus in the storm and in the calm because you are King, and worthy of praise.
So when it comes to getting lessons for wakeboarding some of us our picky, and some of us don't really care too much.
I know personally that there are some instructors that I can't seem to connect with, and others have a way of wording things so that I can remember it in the moment.
I think a lot of times that is what I'm looking for...a single thought, a trigger, a reminder that will tell me what I need to do at the correct moment to pull a trick off.
At the Dallas INT stop I fell on 2 TS 360's. A trick that I would like to think I have in my bag pretty well. The next time when I rode it was kind of a thing that I had to do for redemption. I needed to land a TS 3. It took me 4 more tries to actually do it! Ugh! I was mad at myself. So during the screw ups on the trick I realized that I was trying too hard for it. I was going up and pulling really hard with my back hand. I kept over spinning and could not figure out what was going on. So I decided to do the trick with one hand. No handle pass until I was riding away.
It was amazing! It was like the trick just changed for me. It became easier. It got cleaner looking, and I had the ability to get away with it easier in case I left the wake awkward or at the wrong time.
And all it took was me thinking about using only one hand for the trick.
Some coaches will have the ability to say key simple things that will aide you in doing the trick, and others (like me I think personally) over complicate something and get the rider to over think.
There are several instructionals out there on the market that are there to help us get better at Wakeboarding. The Book. Shaun Murray's Detention, there are countless viral videos out there that help here and there.
We go to coaches, to camps, and clinics to find out how to do this sport the best.
So who is the authority?
Well I don't think there is ever going to be one person or camp or website that we call the "authority" on wakeboarding, there are a few key "laws" that will never change in wakeboarding.
These are things that are always going to be there.
In much the same way there are things that will always be there in our relationship with God.
There is one God
Jesus is His son and came to die for our sins
We are all in need of a savior
The Bible is the inspired word of God
Now there may be different ways to teach these truths, but they will always remain the same. The same way one coach can be telling me to do a trick one way, and another word something up a bit different, and I get the trick because of the way they worded it.
What kind of things do you need to remember to live out your Christian walk day to day?
Are you relying on the Truth?...the Book for instruction or are you learning from a no name coach that has a one hit wonder viral video from another country?
While it might be acceptable to and not such a big deal to leave your wakeboarding fate into the hands of a guy that wants to have his video hit count high, it's not such a good idea to rely on somebody like that when it comes to your relationship with Christ.
It's the most important thing you will ever do. Ever.
Rely on the source.
If you've been around wakeboarding very long, you've probably heard somebody say something about "fundies", a "foundation" or the "basics".
Post up if you have questions.
Using more ballast in wakeboarding makes everything better. Tricks are more fun because you are able to go higher than normal. New moves are easier to learn because you have more time in the air. Ballast really enhances the wakeboarding experience. And once you ride with extra ballast, you begin to feel discontent without it.However, there are some disadvantages to ballast. More time is required to fill and drain the tanks and fat sacks. More gas/energy is used by the boat, which in turn costs you more money. It hurts more when you fall because you are falling from higher-up. But those are sacrifices that most of us are willing to make in order to experience wakeboarding to the fullest.
Jesus is the ballast of Life. He makes our lives complete. He helps us to overcome our past problems and any future hurdles with more ease than we would experience without Him. He allows us to live life on a higher level. And after we have experienced Him in our life, the times when He is absent feel very unsatisfying (obviously He is never absent, but we do not allow Him into certain areas...).
But following Jesus also has some "disadvantages". We have to delegate more time to Him through reading, going to church, serving in ministries, praying, meeting with community, and mission trips. More energy and effort is required to live a life with Jesus than to live a life on our own. Jesus calls us to use our money differently than we would like to. Living a life that follows Jesus causes many more hurts and pains to come to the surface than if we just covered-up and ignored all the pain. And those are sacrifices that few of us are willing to make in order to experience life to the fullest.
Once we have experienced life with Jesus, living without Him is just like wakeboarding behind a Bayliner. Sure we can still have fun and we can still wakeboard, but can we really progress to our fullest potential? No. So my question is this...How much Jesus are you filling your life with? So often in life we only fill our stock ballast with Jesus. We fill our lives with just enough Jesus to be helpful and noticeable, but not enough Jesus to truly fly. Why? Because we are selfish with "our time"...because we are scared of what He wants us to do with "our money"...because we are terrified of getting hurt and falling from higher up. But Jesus promises to give us life, and life to the full.
So are we going to live life with only our stock ballast, or are we going to live life sacked-out?
Boat Driver (This Devo brought to you by Mark Heger)As the boat driver I am responsible for everything going on inside the boat. I control the driving, the speed, and the wake. I shift people around, tell them where to sit, get them to pull-in or adjust the rope, and if they are distracting or bothersome I discipline them.
While driving the boat, I demand respect and I expect obedience. I take my job very seriously because I know that my performance directly effects my rider's wakeboarding experience. I maintain complete control of my vessel and I nitpick every tiny detail toward perfection.
Why do I treat my boat driving skills as more important than my body-driving skills? My body is also a vessel that I responsible for driving, but so often I do not command respect from or discipline the actions of my body. My eyes, my tongue, my thoughts, my anger, my apathy... I am a pretty crappy body-driver most of the time. And the worst part is that instead of someone receiving a bad wakeboard pull because of my lack of effort, someone receives a bad picture and representation of Jesus as a result of my laziness.
Colo. 3:5 - Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire and greed, which is idolatry.
Gal. 6:9 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Eph. 4:29 - Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
James 3:6-12 - The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8. but not man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
1Corin. 9:27 - No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Away from me!
So this week we'll finish up our Matthew series. Get ready for some fun stuff during the fall and winter months. We're going to go through a couple of books and it should be really good.
Have a great week!
Logs, Specks and hypocrites
So the fun part about talking about hypocrites is that we all hate them...
Be anxious for nothing
At the core of much of our problems with our walk with Christ whether that is a good walk or a poor walk in our estimation I think a lack of trust in God can be the core issue of what is going on.
Think about it: Are you in control of the mental situation in your life? What kind of stuff are you thinking about moment by moment? I know when I get self focused and my focus gets off of Christ I have two things going on.
1. I'm too focused on my ability or lack their off.
2. I'm not focused enough on Christ and His ability and power.
I'm kind of going through that now. I get in these ruts where I think that I have to work real hard. And I have to get it done. Or I have to do good work. Or I have to be a good wakeboarder. Or whatever.
You get the picture. I'm the most miserable when I'm reacting and trying to do what I need to do to get it done.
I find that I'm way more at peace with my God and with myself when I'm settled, resting, not striving and focused on Him.
Even today, I have my list of stuff that I have to do...and it's a battle not to focus at the list of "to do's" and not on my God and his greatness.
It comes down to a belief that I really don't trust that God is going to take care of it.
Think about your issues. You think in your head that God can do it, and you'll tell yourself that you believe that God is able to do all things, but you don't live like it.
Belief isn't just thinking something in your head...belief is actually living like you think.
Do you believe that God is who He says He is?
Do you believe that He will do what he says he's going to do?
Are you living like it?
Matthew 6:25-34 are some of the sweetest reminders to me.
"For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, niether do they reap, not gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?
And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.
But if God so arrays the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?
Do not be anxious then saying, "What shall we eat?" or "what shall we drink?" or "with what shall we clothe ourselves?"
For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all the things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will take care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own.
Can you take refuge in those verses?
Do they challenge you?
Did you notice God's command not to be anxious?
God is big enough to not need to worry.
He is in total control.
So why do I think I can do a better job?
2 outa 3 aint bad...
The next section of scripture we're looking at is Matthew 6 16-24.
The next three topics are regarding fasting, money and the last one is regarding anxiety.
We wont talk about anxiety until next week.
So in vs 16-18 Jesus is giving us instructions on fasting.
First of all...what is fasting?
Fasting is giving up something for a period of time to put your dependency on God rather than that thing. At least that's what it is in the Bible. People will go on fasts all the time these days for health related issues, but sometimes I think the spiritual fast gets forgotten.
So in vs. 16 Jesus says, "whenever you fast"...
Actually I had a hard time getting past that part.
I can't remember the last time I fasted. It's a difficult discipline for me.
Sometimes I wonder if I should just fast because it's one of those things that I keep struggling with in my head.
Do you ever find yourself struggling with a spiritual discipline and you keep finding reasons not to do it. Or you rationalize yourself out of doing it?
That's the exact thing that I would take a leap of faith and jump out and do...provided it falls in line with the Biblical guidelines for your life.
So since I have a harder time fasting...I should just go and fast.
So Jesus is saying to make sure that you are fasting for the right reasons in this passage. Not so men think you're awesomely spiritual.
The goal is to be seen by your Father in heaven...not by others.
Next set of verses.
Do not lay up for yourself treasures upon earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
That's a great place to stop for a second. Where is your heart? Is it with your job? Is it with keeping up with the "jones"? Is it with a car, or an image or a status?
If you do a bit of self reflection i'm sure you'll find out shortly where your heart is.
Then check these verses out:
But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
I think it's interesting that Jesus talks about the "light that is in you is darkness"...
Almost like the darkness in you could "shine" out. That's a scary thought to me. I think there are some people that you can see that actually "shine darkness".
Then wrestle with this:
You cannot serve two masters. If you are partially obeying God, then you are completely disobeying God.
Think about that. Ask God how you view money and if it's an unhealthy view or a healthy one. It's all God's money...do you think it's yours?
Next week we talk about being anxious...it's an amazing set of scripture.
Do not let your switch know what your regular is doing.
We're going to continue on with this message that Jesus has been preaching. The last few weeks he's just been delivering some of the hardest stuff I think the Bible has in it.
This week he kind of starts out and addresses the religious person.
Now, if you don't go to church I don't want you to tune out cause you're right there. We're all 'spiritual' minded, and most of us would say that we believe in some form of god.
This is for you too then. I think that the things that Jesus is talking about in these first few verses are the types of things that really make us mad when people don't do them. The kind of person that Jesus is talking about in these verses...hypocrite.
I'm going to address these verses in sections. The first section of scripture that we're looking at is Matthew 6:1-4.
YOu know that question, "Who are you when no one is looking?" This is the perfect section of scripture regarding that.
Why do YOU do the religious or spiritual things that you do? Do you do them because you're in love with Jesus, or do you do them because you want to be a good person.
There is a big difference. And one of those will result in getting there, and the other wont.
Next section of scripture:
Some times I wonder about the people at church and how they are praying makes me wonder if they pray that way to God on their own. Or do they pray to God on their own at all?
You know what I'm talking about? Then I think about me. Do I talk the same way with my God as I do in public? Do I pray the same way when I'm alone with God as I do when I'm praying over dinner? If not...why?
I think an answer could be that we really aren't praying TO God. I think half of the time we're praying FOR us.
Think about it.
So here comes verses 8-13. Commonly called "The Lords Prayer"
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen
What is happening in these verses?
Recognition of our God
Praise to our God
Acknowledgement of us believing in what He will do in the future
Submission to His agenda for our lives (in all areas)
Plea for constant provision
Practical and spiritual acknowledgement of our need for rescue
a commitment to treat others as we would want to be treated
An acknowledgement of our need for our God to guide our steps and rescue us from darkness.
A proclamation of our understanding of God's place above all things.
That's some deep stuff when you really mean what you are saying.
We rocket through that prayer so often and so fast that it's not even thought about half the time.
What happens when we really mean what we are saying to God?
That my friend will change your life.
Go through these verses and at the end of your night, pray through the Lords prayer together with intentions to mean every word in it.
God first, God second, God third
We'll continue on in Matthew chapter 5.
Lets start at verse 21. This is strait forward stuff, but harder to actually flesh out.
21. You have hear that the ancients were told, 'You shall not commit murder' and whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.
22. "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough tot go into the fiery hell.
23. If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24. Leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.
25. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer and you be thrown into prison.
26. Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cdent.
27. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery';
28. but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29. And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it fro you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown in to hell.
30. "and if your right hand makes you stumble, cut if off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body go into hell.
31. "And it was said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of dismissal';
32. but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
You could take this all the way to the end of chapter 5.
Leaders, take the applicable parts that you think your crew will need to hear. If you read through the rest of chapter 5 that's fine, but you might have some with a shorter attention span, so be aware of that. I'll probably lock in the last parts of it. verses 38-48.
All of the verses through here are tough stuff and expect so much from us. I'll be reading through them, watching the body language of the crew that is with me, and act accordingly.
A City on a Hill cannot be hidden
Do you want comfort?
Do you want to inherit the earth?
Would you like to be satisfied? Think about that one for a second.
Would you like to receive mercy?
Would you like to see God?
Do you want to be called a son of God?
Would you like to be labeled as "theirs is the kingdom of heaven"?
Then Matthew chapter 5 is for you.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the safe of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.
"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
So as I read the last few verses of this section the question is begged (at least to me it is)..."how do I live like salt of the earth?"
How do I let my light shine before men and the world?
I think there is the obvious answer, "Live like Jesus" "Do what Jesus would do" "What would Jesus do?" that whole bit.
I need a bit more than that though. I seem to struggle with the day to day stuff. I do my prayer stuff in the morning, hang out with Jesus, then seem to forget HOW to be salt and light.
What is the beatitudes (the first part of this section of scripture) ARE the way, or ARE A way to be salt and light. What if it looks like this:
A friend is going through a loss...and I mourn with then. Really Mourn with them, not just toss them a sympathy prayer.
What if I stop trying to win and jockey for position in my everyday conversation and actually become "poor in spirit"...having nothing in my own self except for what Christ has done.
What if I stop trying to "make it happen" or "get a foot in the door" or what ever common things we see on the office wall on a motivational poster. What if we employ a gentle spirit? That would be salty I think.
What happens when all I can think about and talk about is being holy before my God. Being righteous. I think people would get a little sick of me personally. Light drives out darkness.
What happens when I start to be more merciful. Do people take notice?
What happens when I have a pure heart? I can barely picture what that looks like, but when I see it, I know I'll know it.
How do I become a peacemaker? I'm not a peacemaker now, but what happens when I try to become one? Do I become salt and light then?
These are a few things that I'd like you to think about this week.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden. You are the light of the world.
You have Jesus living inside of you, and it's not you, it's him.
If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus today please open your heart to him and begin a relationship with Him today.
The Boat...week 10
This is actually a story of "what happened right after the boat" but I liked the story and in context of last week it's not bad to wrap things up with this.
So last week we saw Paul and the other prisoners almost getting killed by the solidiers, then by the ocean. Now they land on this island called Malta.
So the natives showed the shipwrecked crew kindness and started a fire for them. Next thing you know Paul is putting some sticks on the fire and a snake attaches itself to Paul's hand.
Something that stands out to me here: Paul is in the thick of it...again. Paul never seemed to be someone that stayed in the background. If there was an argument, Paul was probably the reason for it. If there was a beating...Paul was probably the one being beaten. If there was somebody in jail...it was probably Paul. If there was somebody throwing sticks on a fire...you better believe Paul would be there in the mix.
The take away for me here: Don't sit around and wonder when God is going to work in your life. He has already given you His word with standing marching orders. Follow those. Jump in! Paul was jumping in even in the little things. Jump in in the little things people!
But I might get bit by a snake!
Cause Paul got bit by a snake...but see what happened.
The natives initially thought that Paul was cursed because they assumed he was a murderer or something of the sort because of the company that he was in. So they figured that Justice was going to run it's course and take Paul out. So they watched Paul...
Time goes by and they figure Paul to be some sort of a god because nothing happened to him.
I'm sure that in some facet this gave him some clout to where people would listen to him. If that wasn't enough, the head dude of the island welcomed them in, and Paul heard about Publius' dad.
Paul prayed for him and the guy was healed.
Which in turn ends up with tons of people coming to Paul to be healed.
God had a plan.
This horrible shipwreck that almost cost the crew their lives, ended up being a tool that God used to get Paul to Malta, to get Paul in with the towns folk, and get him in good with the one who leads their little island.
Moral of the story?
Don't assume you have how God is going to work in your life figured out. Many of us have our 1, 2, 3's of how God is going to get us where he wants us. Many times the "where he wants us" was or is an idea put there by people around us that may or may not be serving the Lord.
That's scary stuff to me. I don't want to do what people suggest I do just because they see me good at something and want to feel good about "speaking into my life" Don't get me wrong I have had people speak words from God into my life that have carried for decades.
What I'm saying is, don't wait around for what you think God is going to do in your life and end up missing what God already IS doing in your life.
Who knows...maybe you'll walk on water.
The Boat...week 9
Since this is one of those Bible stories that isn't as well known as others, lets take the night sharing the story of this. There are times in the story where we might feel a bit out of context (why is Paul going to Rome? Who is the "we" that vs. 1 talks about?), if you know those answers great. If not don't worry about them now. Get the story out as it's a pretty long one for an on the water night.
Notes that I am going to bring up are the number of men on the ship (vs 37), how Paul wasn't afraid of speaking out right about what God told him (vs 23), and how the centurion that was in charge of Paul didn't want to kill him because of his relationship with him (vs. 43).
We don't do "story time" a whole lot and I feel it's an important story of the New Testament. As God leads you to lead...lead.
I find myself feeling obligated to "go the extra mile" when I don't know if I have spoken clearly or if I think my listeners aren't getting the text. Ultimately that's because I'm trusting myself and my abilities more than I'm trusting my God.
So...this week lets let the text speak for itself.
The Boat...week 8
This week is an amazing text.
It's pretty deep so I'll let you as leaders hang out on the parts that really resonate with you.
Okay, so you'll need to go over this one verse by verse maybe.
Here's the skinny: Jesus says, "look, you aren't following me because you saw signs but you're following me because you were fed." (This is the same crowd of 5000 that Jesus fed)
Jesus then says, (vs 27 NASB) "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal."
(Jesus is telling them to expend their efforts on what will last forever, not on the temporal)
The people realize that Jesus is saying that God has a requirement for them, to which the crowd asks:
(vs 2 "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?
(It would seem to me that it is a very natural thing to assume that working toward a goal is going to earn us favor with our God...an indication of our pride me thinks)
Jesus' answer is simple. (vs 29) "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent,"
What is the work of God?
That you believe in Him whom He has sent.
You might want to repeat that one a few times. That is the ONLY "work" that is required of us.
Then the crowd asks for a sign.
Didn't they just go through this? What about the feeding of the 5000? What about the people that got healed by touching his cloak? It would seem that Israel is the same as it ever was.
(vs. 30) "They said therefore to Him, "What then do You do for a sign, that we may see, and believe You? What work do You peform?
(vs 31) "Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ' He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.'"
(Okay, so now Jesus is telling them that to do the "works" of God they need to believe in the one whom the Father sent...Jesus. The people then ask for a sign so that they can believe. I'm like, "What!?" Did they forget about them being fed? Were they comparing Jesus' feeding to that of the manna in heaven over 40 years, and if so were they saying that Jesus' miracle wasn't good enough? What then is "good enough"!? You should ask yourself that same thing too..."What is good enough for God to do in your life?")
(vs 32) Jesus says "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who give you the truth bread out of heaven.
(vs 33) "For the bread of God is that which comes dowdn out of heaven, and gives life to the world."
(This reads out like this to me: You want a sign? Here I am. Jesus is saying, I am the sign out of heaven...I'm the bread you're looking for, it's me")
(vs 34) They said therefore to Him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believe in Me shall never thirst.
But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
You might want to read through that last part a few times. It's heavy.
To me this feels like a bigger corporate version of what Jesus was kind of saying to the woman at the well in John 4.
Talk amongst yourselves.
The Boat...week 7
So last week we were talking about Jesus feeding the 5000. The motivation for the direction of where this story started out was Jesus desiring to be alone with His Father. The multitudes come to him and he had compassion on them. So he got sidetracked from his quiet time. This is an encouragement to me because he did have compassion. He didn't get rude with anybody cause "He had to have his Quiet Time." Jesus was kind of practical like that. I don't know, I think there is something to learn from that.
So in verse 22 and 23 Jesus is back on track with spending time with his Father. Once again, the lesson we need to take away from this is that even the Son of God wanted/needed time with His father. We too should be spending time with our Father in heaven.
So the boys (disciples) are on the boat in the middle of the sea...and the wind was "Contrary". Have you ever had a day where the wind was, "Contrary"? I know I have. Anyway.
So sometime in the night Jesus comes out to them on the water.
We've heard this story enough times to let ourselves gloss over about this...but Jesus walked out on the water! On the water!
You wonder why they thought he was a ghost? Cause there was a guy walking on the water!
I could see them thinking why he'd be a ghost. I mean it makes sense. In my mind a ghost wouldn't have a ton of mass if any...
I would thing that a ghost would be more likely found walking on the water than a man.
I guess I have to rethink some things I think about Jesus again. A few weeks ago I thought that forgiving sins would be harder for Jesus than healing the sick. It appears as thought I was wrong.
Here I have assumptions floating around in my head that Jesus has limitations. This is no big deal for Jesus. He is fully God. Fully man, and only has limitations that the Father has placed on him.
So, Jesus comes to them on the water.
Basically Peter says, "I'll come to you if it's you and you call me Jesus."
Now if I was a prankster ghost then I'd call Peter out to me anyway and then be like..."Oh I thought you meant somebody else"
I know i'm mean.
Jesus calls to Peter and tells him to come out on to the water.
So, Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water!
What?! I still let the story glaze me over.
A man. It would be like me getting off the boat tonight and walking.
In verse 31 it evidently has something to do with faith. I want to be clear that we're not talking about a mamby pamby "faith in our selves" faith. We're talking about a Faith in Christ. A trust in the God who is limitless to allow us to bend the laws of physics and time and space.
It's pretty crazy when we think about it.
The punch line to all of this:
That's what all of this is all about. Worshiping a God that is worthy of it.
Not a lame wad looking "church service" kind of "everybody stand" cause we're supposed to kind of worship, but a fall on your face, bow your knee, come with heavy heart worship because that's the kind of God we serve.
Jesus did these things so we know that our Father is great. Not as a manipulative thing to get us convinced our God is good. But to show a mighty display of power for our God so that our natural reaction to Him would be to stand in awe of him.
You get the idea.
Don't forget verse 32.
The Boat...week 6
This week is my favorite "Boat" story in the Bible.
In the past we have only read the part where Jesus walks on the water, but I wanted to read the entire chapter and break it down.
This week we'll look at Matthew 14 1-21
So you have Herod hearing things about Jesus and thinks that it's John the Baptist risen from the dead. So he nabs JTB and puts him in prison.
The short story of it is that Herod kills JTB, and Jesus gets wind of it and is sad. Notice, Jesus didn't vow revenge, or threaten, or make crazy promises. Of all the people on the planet who could back up what he said or ranted and raved about you, you have Jesus, not ranting. You have Jesus...sad.
So Jesus gets in a boat to get some solitude time in.
Why would the Son of God need to get alone away from people?
To be with his Father in heaven. If Jesus did it...we should do it.
Lets not think too hard about this. Lets get in a boat, and withdraw from people. I like that word, "withdraw". It's like withdrawl, but without the L. Maybe we're addicted to people. Maybe we're addicted to our phones, our wakeboards, our ipod, ipad, itouch, I, I, I, I, Me, Me, Me!
Go, get in a boat. Get away from everything but God. I'd do this sooner rather than later.
So, Jesus goes to be alone with God. There's a problem.
Everybody follows him because Jesus is at rock star status at this point. People wanted to see miracles, and they wanted to be healed, and they wanted to hear what he had to say.
So he's teaching them and the disciples are getting to the place where they are like, "Hey Jesus, you should send them away so they can eat."
It's interesting to me that the disciples are the ones that brought this up.
Jesus was like, "You feed em"
Read the story. The punch line is, out of 5 loaves and 2 fish, there were 12 baskets leftover after everyone had eaten.
12 baskets. That's a basket for each disciple to carry back to the feet of Jesus to remember him of his unbelief.
We'll pick it up next week with what happens right after this.
The Boat...week 5
Lots of reading this week.
We're going over a chapter that is almost all parable.
Leaders: I'm going to read it out, and then hit on some of the points that jumped out at me. This is one of those chapters that I'd really encourage you to let the text speak for itself on. I kept finding myself wanting to add to it, and commentate...
It's pretty self explanatory. And if it isn't self explanatory...then that's what this chapter was talking about in the first place.
So Jesus is talking about what the Kingdom of heaven is like.
He uses parable, or stories to describe and paint a picture for us. Jesus wasn't dead set on everybody understanding everything. As a matter of fact he knew that not everybody was going to get it. Remember Jesus wasn't there to seek and the safe the "found" or the "know it all". He was there to seek and to save the "lost".
Read through these verses and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding.
One of the things that's still blowing my mind is the parable of the Tares and Wheat.
I love the imagery of the servants of the sower saying, "Hey, you got weeds in with your wheat! You want us to pull the weeds out?" To which the sower responds, "No, wait until later because we don't want to damage the wheat."
I've got a call in to T2 right now cause I think he farmed wheat back in the day. I'm curious about the strength of the wheats root in it's early stages. If left in does the wheat develop a strong enough root so that later on the weeds could be pulled out without harming the wheat?
Based off that assumption it could look like God allows us to "share the dirt" with those that he will not eventually call home.
Read through this. Read though it again. And then pray some more and read it again. It's one of those weeks.
The Boat...week 4
I love this story about Jesus and the boat. In this one you have some "other worldly" comments coming out of Jesus. When he says things like these it just makes me marvel at Him. Lets jump in.
1. So He got into the boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.
2. And behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. And Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you."
3. And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This man blasphemes!"
4. But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?
5. "For which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'?
6. "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" - then he said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."
7. And he arose and departed to his house.
8. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
Okay, are you catching this? Jesus pulls the switcheroo on this guy. Well kinda. Imagine this: Jesus has been walking around healing, casting out demons...you know...doing things that Jesus does. People are following Him and everybody wants to see what He is doing.
So Jesus changes it up a little bit. He is in his own home town and there are some religious type people around. Jesus sees this paralytic laying on the ground and Jesus says, "Son...you are healed."
Not this time! Jesus actually walks up to this guy and says, "Your sins are forgiven."
Now, I have a few thoughts running through my head at this point if I'm the paralytic.
1. Hmmmmm okay. That's nice and everything, but I'd really like to be healed.
2. Be of good cheer?! I'm paralized here and you want me to "be of good cheer"?
3...you can come up with some of your own. You get the idea.
So, there are these religious types hanging about (I think it interesting that they are constantly present to watch Jesus work, even though they have critical things to say about Him. And they thing to themselves, "Blasphemy...no one can forgive sins except God alone"
Punch line is this: Jesus know exactly what they are thinking and does this one.
Oh yeah, I figured it was harder for me to say 'rise up and walk' than 'your sins are forgiven you'. So in order for you to believe that I can do the 'easier' i'm going to do the more difficult right in front of your face.
Jesus heals the paralytic...and everybody had to pick their jaws up off the floor!
Jesus has Left the building!
He blows my mind...all the time.
In what areas of your life are you waiting for God to heal you of something when in all actuality you need Him to forgive your sins? He can do both, but Him forgiving your sins is an easy start for him.
Give it a thought.
The Boat...week 3
It's a short section of scripture but one that I frequently find speaking to me.
23. And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.
24. And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep.
25. And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing!"
26. And He said to them, "Why are you timid, you men of little faith?" Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm.
27. And the men marveled, saying, "What kind of a man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"
Leaders, I'd like you to really let the passage speak to your crew. There's no telling what kind of storms our crews are going through right now. You have all had storms in your lives where you didn't think you were going to make it out...You probably thought you were "perishing". Pray for your crew this week that the Holy Spirit would comfort them through the difficult times of the storm. Would you pray for a supernatural ability to understand what is going on in your crew's life for the Glory of the Father.
The punch line this week is this: "Why are you timid, you men of little faith?"
This statement is less a statement about the men and more a statement about Jesus.
Do you truly trust Jesus to get you out of this one? I'm confident that if you really don't trust Jesus to get you out of this one, then you need this storm so that you can learn to trust him more.
He is capable!
Boat in the Bible week 2
Matthew 4:18 - Now Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
(First things that strike me about this...Peter is listed first at this point, but when we first hear of the two brothers you hear Andrew's name first and Peter second because Andrew invited Peter to meet Jesus. I can't think of another time in the Bible when Andrew was listed first. Next thing that jumps out at me is that Andrew was not only a fisherman, but he was also a disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew was a multi faceted individual.)
4:19 - And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
(Things to be noted: They didn't fish with hooks and lures back then...witch I think many churches fish like. Hooks and lures imply a fisherman is fishing for a certain type of fish. I don't know much about the fishing practices of the day back then, but a net to me implies that whatever is caught...is caught. I wonder what churches would look like if they fished with nets instead of hooks)
4:20 - Then they immediately left their nets and followed Him.
(All I can really think at this point is that I hope that if Jesus were here incarnate...that I'd follow him no matter what I was doing immediately)
4:21 - And going on from there the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And He called them,
4:22 - and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
(note to self: Not only should I follow Jesus and drop what I'm doing at the moment he calls me...but I should do it no matter who is watching me and no matter what they say...even if it's my earthly father)
4:23 Now Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people
24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.
25 And great multitudes followed Him - from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
(I think the big take away from these added verses is that when you follow Jesus, you'll get to see the most amazing things anybody on the planet has ever seen. Honest. I've heard of some cool stuff out there, but none of it compares with the awesome working power of the Holy Spirit here on the earth. It's insane...and I want to see it and be a part of it, even if that means I only get to watch)
Boats in the Bible week 1
Or something like that. I did a series a long time ago ( I guess pre this site) on the things that happened when Jesus was on a boat, near a boat or at the lake.
I want to go through that again, but I want to add a couple of other lessons to it this time. This time we'll add Jonah's story, and Paul's shipwreck experience.
This week we're going to look at Jonah. It's a short book in the Old Testament. Some people actually think that Jonah was allegorical, but I don't think so since Jesus actually referred to the things that happened to Jonah as factual (Matthew 12:39-41). The book also reads as a straightforward historical account. If it had not been a historical account of real things then it would appear that this book would be in the "historical fiction" genre, a genre that didn't show up on the scene until well after the time of Christ.
So...with that said. I believe the things in the book of Jonah to be true, and actually able to happen.
So lets get started.
Jonah was a prophet in the Old Testament.
In Jonah chapter 1:1 - The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
vs. 3 - But Jonah arose up to flee from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (see map)
So the short story (leaders feel free to go verse by verse on it) is that Jonah got a boat ride the opposite direction of where God wanted him to go.
This isn't a hard lesson to teach here.
Lesson: If God is telling you something to do. Do it! Right then. Don't go the other direction. Don't argue. If you think that God could possibly be telling you to do something and it falls in step with what the Bible says, then what do you have to lose. Chances are it's God teaching you how to hear his voice and has you obey that, he'll speak louder and louder and about more in depth things in the future.
So the story goes that once on the boat a great storm came up and threatened to sink the ship. Jonah was asleep in the boat while all the other guys on the ship thought they were going to die. So they all started calling out to their gods. They woke Jonah up and said, "Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish." (Jonah 1:6)
So the sailors cast lots to see who's fault this was, and the lot fell to Jonah. So Jonah fessed up and told them that he served the Lord and that he was running from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:10) So the men on the ship were afraid and asked what they should do to Jonah. So Jonah told them to throw him overboard and the storm would stop. The sailors still didn't throw him overboard yet, and they rowed desperately to try to get to land, but they could not. Then they prayed to God that He not hold them accountable for Jonah's life, which they were about to throw into the sea.
Side note: It's interesting to me that these guys were praying to their own gods just verses before, but now they're praying to the Lord God of Israel. It's funny what a little storm in someones life can do to refocus them on what is true.
God would you send the storms that direct us to you, in our lives?
So Jonah gets thrown into the sea and in verse 17 the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the great fish for three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)
Go google "Jonah swallowed by whale" and you'll find all sorts of fun stuff on people arguing whether or not this is actually possible.
With God, all things are possible!
So, many of you know the story. After three days the whale spits Jonah up on the beach, and Jonah makes it way to Nineveh.
Jonah then preaches his message to them, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown."
The deal here is that Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh because Jonah deep down didn't think they deserved a second chance. The Ninevites were rough, and Jonah didn't like them. The reason he didn't want to go was because he knew that God was slow to anger and would stay his hand.
So the Ninevites actually turn from their wickedness (chapter 3:5) and turn to God.
At the beginning of chapter 4 Jonah starts to complain. "This is what I said would happen Lord! Thisis why I didn't want to go in the first place...cause you would forgive them. Then Jonah said that he just wanted to die cause God treated him so badly. (wah wah, get over it!)
Then Jonah find a comfortable place to watch Nineveh get waxed.
I encourage you to read this account, or re familiarize yourself with it if you aren't. It does not require a strait read through, but if you aren't familiar with the story you need to be.
Lessons to be learned:
1. When God speaks. Obey. Right then!
2. You obeying God doesn't only effect you...it's effects a boatload of other people around you.
3. God does miracles! Believe it.
4. God has compassion on all the people. Even the ones that you don't think deserve it.
5. You're not "entitled" just because you serve Jesus. He gives and takes away.
Leaders if you need more than that, just let me know. I think you'll be fine with this one though. I like this story.
Have a great week on your boats.
Devo for the week of April 14th to April 20th
I think I left off last week on the end of Romans 6:23 but we'll hit on that one a little bit again.
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
I think this is one of the more unique and hardest aspects of the Christian faith to grasp.
In a way I think it's in our nature to be religious. Even people that aren't "religious" have a religious take on their atheism or agnosticism. Even Christians get bogged down with a "religious" "works based", "i'll pay you back later" version of what they believe.
Think of all the world religions and tell me about one where God came and gave himself up for the subjects of the King.
It's a true picture of love. Sacrifice. A mighty amazing being giving up what he does not have to give up so that others might be saved.
All the other religions that I can think of (even some christian slanted ones) involve people paying God back out of duty, out of obligation.
"The gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."
The gift. It's free. It's through Christ Jesus.
Next stop is Romans 10:9 - "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
Now as I look over those verses I remember looking at them in the past and seeing them as a check list.
( ) confess Jesus as Lord
( ) believer in my heart that God raised him from the dead.
This is simple, and complex. I know I'm kinda going back and forth with that. Like back then for me, I think I'd confess because I was supposed to, and I still wrestled with the "belief" part of it. I had doubts and I still wondered if it was all real.
But as I continued in my relationship with Christ, the confession of my mouth became more natural, and the belief in my heart became stronger and more unwaivering.
Out of the abundance of the mouth the heart speaks.
Speak and confess the name of the Lord Jesus in your life. Continue to believe that God raised him from the dead, and you WILL be saved!
The final stop on the Roman road is
Romans 5:1 - "Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Imagine being at peace with the Father. Not just any Father. The Father. God. King of all things. That's a relationship that will never cease and going through life with that knowledge is immense and peaceable.
Somehow, nothing else seems to matter after that.
The last verse I want to leave you with is this:
Romans 8:38-39 says -
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You might need to read that again.
No matter what you think you have done, or whatever you think is in between you and Jesus, or you and God...I don't care how bad you think you are...
Nothing...nothing, nothing at all can separate you from the Father's Love.
Period. End of sentence. End of discussion. End of debate.
End of transmission. Stop arguing. Okay, that's enough. Jesus Loves you.
I mean it.
Devo for the week of April 5th to April 12th
Sorry about the all underline and all bold. I don't know how to fix html code. :) (but I know how to make a smiley)
The Roman Road to salvation is a series of verses in the book of Romans that helps to show our need for a savior, and how we can be saved. This series is good for us as believers to remember for leading those around us to Christ, and is instrumental in a pre-Christians' life to crossing the bridge to salvation.
We'll go through this series a couple of stops a week.
The first stop this week will be:
Romans 3:23 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
It's pretty strait forward, but it's easy to think that "we're all good people" deep down inside. Sure I could see how we think that we are good when we compare ourselves to the person next to us, or the person on the Jerry Springer show, but that's not who we're being compared to. We're being compared to God's holiness. We're horrible next to him.
Romans 3: 10-18 paints a picture of sin.
There is none righteous, not even one; There is non who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is non who does good, There is not even one.
Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
That's what we're like without Jesus, even when we think we're good.
The second stop on the Road is
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The punishment we have earned for our sins is death. Physical death, and eternal spiritual death.
The next part of the Roman road to salvation is the focus on the end of Romans 6:23.
"but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we could live on to the glory of God.
Romans 5:8 says - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Praise the Lord! The Father's love abounds to us. And we see that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Soak these verses in this week. These are all verses that we could potentially glaze over because we have heard them before. Read them again for the first time this week.
Remember your own Road to Salvation.
If you have not yet accepted Jesus' payment on the cross for your sins, would you talk to your lead or somebody this week about accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and savior.
Devo for the week of March 29th to April 6th
I remember one of the first times Jesus and I did business together...like Alf and Jesus.
Not, Alf and Alf's mom's God, Jesus. Not, Alf and the God of the American Christian, Jesus. Not Alf and a concept or thought of what Jesus could be like, but Alf and Jesus.
Anyway, you get the idea.
One of the first times that it became genuinely personal to me was when I came to the realization of what He did on the cross for me.
I googled "medical effects of crucifixion" today and I found some interesting results.
One site I'm putting a link to will actually be our study this week. It's a very good explanation of what Christ went through on the cross for our sins.
Next week we'll start a short series on the Roman road to salvation.
I thought this would be a good lead in to this, and also a great reminder of the price for our sin.
Mind you, this account refers to the physical duress put on Jesus. This account does not touch on the separation that Jesus endured from God the Father, not to mention the fact that He was Immanuel (God with us) which is a miracle in itself.
Leaders, read over this one if you have a chance before your group this week. If you don't have a chance, read through it to your group. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict.
I don't want us to walk away with a sense of guilt that "leads us to repentance", but I do want us to have a realization of the cross, and the horror of our sin next to Jesus Christ's holiness.
Have your crew read through the verses and pray that the Holy Spirit would draw men to Himself.
Then, invite your crew to church with you on Sunday morning.
Here's the link.
Devo for the week of March 15th to 22nd
Today we go over James chapter 5
There are three sections of this chapter so leaders feel free to break this up in whatever way works best for your group. If you need to hang out on vs 1-6 more, or 7-12, or the 13-20 feel free. I'll be hitting on all three but probably hanging out more in the first section, definitely hitting the last part of the second section and the last section.
Lets jump in.
1. Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.
2. Your wealth has rotted and moths have eaten your clothes.
3. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.
4. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.
5. You have lived on the earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
6. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.
Questions for groups:
Do you think you have any wealth that's corrosion will "testify against you" as in verse 3?
What could be a picture of a modern day "hoarding of wealth" like we're seeing in vs 3?
Do you think there are any "cries of harvesters" reaching the ears of the Lord Almighty against us? (individually? Nationally?)
Have you lived on the earth in luxury and self indulgence?
Do you next part of that verse may apply to you?
How do you think verse 6 could possibly apply to us if we haven't actually murdered anybody?
Lets move on to the second section of this chapter
7. Be patient, then brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield it's valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.
8. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.
9. Don't grumble against each other, brothers or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
10. Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
11. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have see what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
12. Above all, my brothers, do not swear - not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No", no, or you will be condemned.
How does James connect these two passages?
Do you think James is speaking to the same group of people or two separate groups of people in these two different passages?
Break down vs 10-11. What do you think James could be referring to? What could the brothers he is talking about in verse 7 need to be persevering against in this time?
What did the Lord finally bring about for Job that James is talking about in verse 11?
How often do you say, "I swear"? Do you think those are empty words, or do you think they may mean something to someone?
What does, "Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No", no" mean?
We'll stop there for this week lest we turn this into a really long week.
Post up your questions and thoughts.
Love you guys.
Devo for the week of March 8th to 14th
This first verse is a doozy right out of the box.
I do this, you do this...more often that we should.
11. Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it.
12. There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you - who are you to judge your neighbor?
(Pretty solid stuff again. It's great practical advice, and it would also keep us out of trouble if we could just learn to keep our mouths shut about others. God never told you to judge your neighbor...he told you to love them)
13. Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."
14. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."
16. As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
17. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
(If I could show you how many business plans I've built regarding what I'm going to do. How big I'm going to build it, how it's going to look, how much revenue it's going to make you'd laugh. I know this flies in the face of common sense and what the norm is these days, but God is telling us to change the way we think regarding our futures. Instead of having a mindset of "I'm going to do this" he is challenging us to have a mind set of, "If God would allow this...". There is a huge difference and it stems from our belief and our trust in God. Do you really believe that God will take care of your future, or do you think you really are going to have to? It's a serious and tough question I want you to ask yourself. It's one thing to trust Jesus with your eternity, but it's something totally different to trust Jesus with the rest of your life, the rest of your families life...everything. Have you done that? Really?
The kicker here is the last verse. This is kind of like the go to verse if you're asking if you can get away with anything. I remember when I was in youth group our big question was how far is too far when it comes to dating? The problem is the very question we were asking is the wrong one. It proves that we had a heart issue from the get go. Answer: Anyone who knows the good they are supposed to do and doesn't do it...sins.)
It's a shorter week, but there's tons to talk about in there.
Devo for the week of March 1st to March 7th
"Everytime I read James God punches me in the face."
So true with the very first verse of chapter 4.
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?
Isn't it the source of your pleasures that wage war in your members?
You lust and don't get what you want...so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.
You do not have what you want because you do not ask.
You ask and you don't get what you want because you ask with wrong motives so that you may do what you want.
I'm amazed at the Living Word of God. Isn't it incredible. Text written nearly 2000 years ago speaking deeply to the core of who I am. Speaking deeply to the core of many of the world's issues.
Lets jump back in. vs. 4
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
(did you know that?)
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
(pretty strait forward there isn't it?)
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose; "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us:?
(Okay, hit the brakes for a second. First of all, lets dwell on the question, "Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose?"
Well do you? It's an honest question and a question that will reveal a ton about your charachter and what you really think about God.
Now lets look at the reason why we want to be a friend of God and an enemy of the world:
Because the Spirit of God jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.
No, not cause we're supposed to be good little boys and girls. Not so we have a pleasant society. Because as believers, God has put his Spirit inside of us! That's intense, insane, and I could list a ton of other adjectives....
It's once again all about God! He jealously desires...
wait for it...
How does that make you feel?
Is that unfair?
Is that weird?
If you have issues with this, shoot me a pm or a message. I'd love to talk with you about it.
He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
I don't understand a ton of stuff...but I do understand this.
God opposes the proud
Give grace to the humble.
On ward to verse 7.
Submit therefore to God. (notice the period there)
Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts you doubleminded.
Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
I think there is so much practical stuff here.
Leaders, I'm not asking you to get very fancy with this one. Read it. Have your group read it. And maybe read it again.
Then discuss, and see what God is doing.
James chapter 4 vs 1-10 in case you didn't catch all of that.
Devo for the week of Feb 22nd - 28th
Once again, James delivers some tough stuff right out of the box.
James 3:1 - Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall inherit stricter judgement.
That's not a very good move considering I'm trying to get more chapter leaders to lead people to Jesus is it? Not very good marketing. The truth of the matter is, God is going to hold teachers responsible for the things that they say. It's not easy, but it's true. So as leaders we need to handle the scripture carefullly.
I'm not going to trek through the next 10 verses one by one, but in your groups I want you to read them to yourselves, and then out loud to one another if needed.
A few weeks ago my pastor delivered a message on words that bring life, or words that bring death. It was a convicting look into the way that I use words and why I use them. Let the verses in James tear through you, convicting you of the reason you use the words that you do, and why you do it. We should all relate to vs 4.
In James 3 vs 13-18...
Man I just keep going back to this passage.
13 - Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
Gentleness of Wisdom! That's heavy stuff man. So James is saying that you'll see wise people by the things that they are doing.
14. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
15. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
Wow! So there is an earthly wisdom...and a heavenly wisdom. Have you ever listened to a person that was trying to sound wise? Yeah, that's what comes to mind there.
16. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
17. But wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
Want to know what heavenly wisdom is like? Vs. 17 is it.
18. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Do you notice a correlation between those with wisdom and those that act in peace?
I would venture to say that if you think you are wise, you can look at your Peace-o-meter and see how well you are doing there. If you are lacking peace or gentleness....theeeeeen, you're probably lacking heavenly wisdom too.
Wow, so practical! Thanks God. Thanks James.
Devo for the week of Feb 15th - 22
I'm going to use the Message paraphrase version of the text this week. It's awesome, and it allows us to employ a bit of what we learned from Living by the Book.
I'll pretty much just write it out, and let it speak for itself.
Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup - where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, "Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I'll handle the works department." Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove. Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That's just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works intwo and not end up with a corpse in your hands? Wasn't our ancestor Abraham "made right with God by works" when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn't it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are, "works of faith"? The full meaning of "believe" in the Scripture sentence, "Abraham believed God ans was set right with God, " includes his action. It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named "God's friend." Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by barren faith but by faith fruitful in works? The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn't her action in hiding God's spies and helping them escape - that seamless unity of believing and doing - what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
Some of my take aways...
Well I guess what isn't right? What has been blowing my mind away is the "seamless unity of believing and doing" part.
At the core of it, it means this:
If I believe that the Bible is true, then I believe that it is applicable to my life. If it's applicable to my life then it has the guidelines for my life in it. If it has the guidelines for my life in it then I need to do what it says.
That means really living out what the Bible says. Ultimately if I'm not then I don't really believe what it says is for me...and I don't really believe that God is good enough to trust with my decisions.
It might seem like a pretty extreme jump, but that's pretty much what we're saying by not putting the word into action in our lives. Truth.
Leaders: Go through this is section and be sensitive to those in your group and their own personal wrestlings with this material. It's intense stuff. Have riders do self assessments on how they are actually living out their faith. Do you believe more than you do? Do you do more than you believe?
Open dialogue is where I'm hoping we land on with this, and with that I believe God will use that to strengthen the balance between belief and doing.
Devo for the week of Feb 9th - 16th
James chapter 2 vs. 1-13
1 - My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
2 - For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in find clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,
3 - and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "you sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my foot-stool."
4 - have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
5 - Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
6 - But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?
7 - Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
8 - If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.
9 - But if you show partiality you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
10 - For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
11 - For He who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not commit murder." Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
12 - So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.
13 - For judgement will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement.
There are a couple of different concepts that he's discussing through these verses.
1. The concept of showing partiality to others, and showing disdain for others.
2. The concept of the consequences of our sinful actions.
In your groups this week I'd like you to identify the ways that we might show partiality to those who might come or do come to wakeboard church. Please discuss both sides of partiality, the disdain, and the favoritism.
Also, talk about the sins that you know that you struggle with consistent transgression and then those sins that you feel like you have nailed down, and get a free pass from God since you don't struggle with them.
Do you feel these two concepts work together?
Can you sense a steady stream of thought coming from James on this issue?
Discuss in your groups and feel free to post up what your thoughts are.
Devo for the week of Feb 1st - Feb 8th
Just keep hitting play. That's what Tony Horton of p90x says.
However, it doesn't work if you don't actually do it. The last couple of days i've had a head cold, or a sinus infection, or something and my body hasn't wanted to do the workouts...
nevertheless I haven't hit play.
Are there days where you don't "feel" like doing what Christ has laid out in front of you? I had a couple of those moments even in the last few days. My brain begins to work overtime and rationalize all the things and reasons why my way is better than God's.
Lets jump into more of the practical application that the book of James has to offer.
vs 13 to start us out...
13. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being temped by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
Alf's commentary - Once you read this once it's a tid bit of info that sticks with you. It's pretty basic, and easy to assume that it's common knowledge from that point forward. I think we'd be surprised about how many aren't clear on this bit of doctrine. Remember it so that you can spread the word. God doesn't tempt. Period.
14. But each one is temped when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
A - where does that tempting come from instead?...When we are carried away (like a fish in a net) and enticed by our own lust.
15. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
A- What an amazing picture here of sin leading to death right?! It's almost like we give birth to sin. Gross. It makes me think of Aliens.
16. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
A - Strait forward stuff right there right? It's like he's saying...in case you doubt this stuff, or want to talk yourself out of it..."Do no be deceived".
17. Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no vairation, or shifting shadow.
A - More strait forward info for us to stow away here: All good things comes from where? Above. From the Father of Lights. (which is a cool thing to think about...imagine the Father of light....whoa) Oh and by the way, that Father of lights that we were just talking about...there is no variation or shifting shadow in Him. A light that doesn't flicker... shadows that don't move around him. That's intense stuff right there.
18. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.
A - I'm sure theres stuff I'm missing here cause I'm not that sharp, but this is some awesome stuff. What i'm getting here is that God brought us forward as his kids (in a manner of speaking) because he wanted to, by his word (which is truth).
19. This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.
A - Uh, is this something we really know? Well you do now. Lets review: Be quick to hear. Slow to speak. AND slow to anger. Easy to type and say, not so easy to apply to everyday life.
20. for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
A - There...in case you didn't know.
21. Therefore putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
A - So lately have you put aside all filthiness? I'll be honest, I haven't so much lately. Often times in the guise of humor. To be funny it's not worth it. In humility do you receive the word? Lets start with are you receiving the word? Okay yes/no? Okay next, do you receive it in humility?
22. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
A - I don't even need to expand on this one. Put your money where your mouth is. Where the rubber meets the road. Let your game do the talking for you. You get the idea.
23. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror.
A - wait for it...
24. for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
A - to me this paints a picture of a shallow type of faith, a hollow religion.
25. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.
A - I love the word "effectual doer". It's like beyond going through the motions...you know when you work out and you just go through the motions, but sometimes you're really feeling it, and you push through those workouts, and compress as much as you can? To me it's like that. Actually acting out your faith, and God bringing the results.
26. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.
A - This is a big ouch...especially for those of us who pride ourselves on being "strait forward" speakers, or "direct". How often do I actually "bridle" my tongue? I'm working on it, but fail more than I win I think.
27. This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
A - Practical application here. When was the last time you visited orphans or widows? When was the last time you were stained by the world?
Leaders: Talk it out, chew on it. Use the thoughts I put in there to spur on conversation if needed. If not needed, just roll with it.
Have a great week.
Devotion for the week of Jan 25th - Feb 5th
I've been praying lately about where we need to go as a crew. You probably can tell that I have been vacillating between Living by the Book and other things. Information is a great thing, but it doesn't do us or anybody else any good if we aren't fleshing it out.
Devotion for the week of Jan 20th-27th
There is something phenomenal going on. It’s become so common place that I might actually seem crazy for saying something about it. I probably have mentioned it before, but I thought we’d spend an evening on it. Control.I was flipping through channels the other day and I was watching one of these insurance ads where it shows the actually car wreck happening. I always wonder how much they paid for those car to wreck them. I think it’s cool to wreck cars for commercials. Anyway, these insurance companies word what they sell sometimes almost like they can keep the bad from happening. They are selling such a cushion of safety that sometimes I actually think we buy into the illusion that we can control what is going to happen to us. Sure, this argument can get a little slippery slopish, but I thought I’d say something to get our brains turning the other way.
Lets talk about the health care debacle. The entire country has it’s eye on this thing, and I understand why. I guess I should back up. My kids have some form of state health insurance, and Kelly and I have some HSA deal where we have a deductable that is completely insane. It’s basically for if something really bad happens. Even the concept of health insurance makes me think a little bit. I understand that it’s there in case something happens, and it’s a very wise thing to have in place, but sometimes I wonder if we begin to think that everything is okay because that’s in place. How much do all of these man made buffer zones make us think that we have it all covered? I think each one of these things is a rift in the surface of the life we are walking out toward our creator at times.
Where do you get your pay check? Work
Where do you get your health? Doctor
Where do you get your peace of mind? From a good family
Where do you get your self esteem? From someone close to me
Where do you get your security and safety? From the Government, or from systems (I’m thinking about safety mechanisms designed to keep us safe)
I understand that this is all very common place and we exist in this fashion day after day, but what happens when we have an earthquake like the one that hit Haiti hit us? Do we doubt God at that point, or do we go to him for the help that we need?
Matthew 6:19 – Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body, if your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lillies of the field grow. They do not labor and spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry saying, ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.
Soak this stuff in this week. Are you focused on your own efforts to get what you want, or are you relying on your Heavenly Father…who knows what you need to supply it to you?
Devotion for the week of Jan 11th-Jan 18th
Devotion for the week of Jan 5th-12th 2010
I was struck this week when our pastor used a couple of verses from Deuteronomy chapter 8.
Devotion for the week of Dec 14th-21st 2009
This week read Luke chapters 1 and 2.
Some of my favorite parts of this story are "Emmanuel". Just the concept of "God with us" blows my mind up. God with US. Think about that for a second. Think about other religions and their gods. Are humanly unattainable and unreachable. Instead we are confronted with a God invading humanity by becoming a part of it. Understanding us. Understanding me. King of kings being born in the manger. Another one of the most amazing parts of this story to me is the prophecies concerning the birth of the Christ. Messiah to be the seed of the woman Gen 3:15 - Prophecy Gal 4:4 - Fulfillment Messiah to be born of a virgin Isaiah 7:14 - prophecy Luke 1:26-35 - Fulfillment Bethlehem to be the place of the Messiah's birth Micah 5:2 - Prophecy Luke 2:4-6 - Fulfillment Homage and tribute paid to Messiah by great kings Psalm 72:10-11 - Prophecy Matthew 2:1-11 - Fulfillment The miracle of just these few prophecies happening is intense. I didn't even list non Christmas related messianic prophecies. Let those soak in. Take in to consideration the time each of the books was written and in what manner they were written. That will speak to you as it did me I think. Finally (if you have time) I want to quote the last part of one of my favorite fiction books. It's the last few pages of Cosmic Christmas by Max Lucado. A fictional possible look at the Christ child's birth from the angel's perspective: [i]So this is He. Immanuel. So this is God's gift. A Savior. He shall save His people from their sins.[/i] "Worthy is the Lamb," I whispered, as I knelt before my God. My heart was full. I turned to Mary as she cradled her child and I spoke. It didn't matter that should couldn't hear me. The stars could. All of nature could. And most of all, my King could. "Do you know who you hold, Mary? You secure the Author of grace. He who is ageless is now moments old. He who is limitless is now suckling your milk. He who strides upon the stars, now has legs too weak to walk; the hands which held the oceans are now an infant's fist. To Him who has never asked a question, you will teach the name of the wind. The Source of language will learn words from you. He who has never stumbled, you will carry. He who has never hungered, you will feed. The King of creation is in your arms." "What manner of love is this?" Michael whispered, and again we were covered with silence. A blanket of awe. Finally, Michael again opened his mouth, this time to sing. He began quietly, pausing between the words. "Glory, glory, glory to God in the highest." One by one we joined. "Glory, glory, glory to God in the higest." Gradually the chorus grew louder and faster: "Glory, glory to God in the highest. Glory, glory to God in the highest. Glory, glory to God in the highest." Our praise rose into the realms of the universe. In the most distant galaxy the dust on the oldest star danced with out praise. In the depths of the ocean, the water rippled with adoration. The tiniest microbe turned, the mightiest constellation spun, all of nature joined with us as we worshiped Immanuel, the God who had become flesh. Remember why this year. Amen.
Devotion for the week of Dec 7th-13th 2009
This week we're going to wrap up the different ways we read and head into our Christmas season where we take a couple of weeks off of our study and focus on the Christmas story and each other.Today we talk about Reading Telescopically. What does that mean? Reading the Bible telescopically means you can read the parts and understand how it makes the whole. For instance, at my house last week we talked about how people like to take Phil 4:13 out of context quite often using it to say that they can do "anything through Christ who strengthens them". Well yes, the words actually say that, but so often people take that to mean that they can do anything they want, and God will give them the power to do it. The contextual truth of the statement is Paul is in chains when he was writing this and he's just coming off telling the Philippian church that he has learned how to be content with whatever circumstance God brings his way. So, yes he can do anything through CHRIST who strengthens him. There is a contextual difference, and it's important to read the Bible telescopically to see the entire story rather than just a few words that sound nice. Ways to do this: Look for the connectives: We read about connectives when we learned about reading the Bible purposefully. Connectives are "ands" and "buts" and bring concepts together frequently. Next time you're journeying through your Bible pay attention to the ands and the buts and see what they are telling you. Pay attention to context: Telescopic reading always asks, "What's the big picture?" So as you read have this question at the back of your mind. There are so many examples of verses being taken out of context, quoted incorrectly and just plain used wrong. Without jumping into too many of them, here's an exercise for you that might be fun, or it might tick you off. Go turn on your local "tv preacher" and follow him as he quotes scripture. Listen to the way that he's quoting the verse and then you read it for yourself. Read the context of the verse and see if what the verse says and what the preacher on tv are the same thing. You might be surprised at what you learn. Evaluate the passage in light of the book as a whole: I know that usually this requires actually reading the book as a whole, but it's valuable to an extent that words cannot express. It will take you a little time, but it's worth it. Read the entire book of a Bible the next time you're wrestling with a verse. It might seem like a lot of work, but you'll end up learning a ton of information on the verse that you have been looking at. It will feel like "behind the scenes" of your verse. Look at the historical context of the book: Hendricks talks about some of the present day activities of Christs day, and that sheds light on the story of Christ. Lately for some reason I've been reading Genesis 22 lately. It's the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Well even typing that is rough. In our society you just don't kill somebody. Especially your own son. Now i'm assuming that Abraham was deeply sorrowful that God provided another sacrifice, but one of the things that we learn about the history of the time period is that pagan religions of the day required human sacrifice. So it wasn't a far leap to think that Abraham would at least be able to imagine God asking that of him. (I'm hoping my wording came off right there) Enjoy this week together, whether that be at coffee shops, or houses or wherever. We are blessed immensely. Ride On everybody.
Devo for Cat and Dog Theology
This is a tough week for sure.I found myself struggling through it. I many of the cases I know the correct answer, but I still found myself "wanting" a certain answer because of my comfort level.
Lets get started.
So the "Cat" theology isn't necessarily incorrect, it's just incomplete.
We've mentioned the "Cat" prayers that we end up praying many times. How often do our prayers sound like, "God, would you heal aunt Bessie?" Or "God would you secure my job?", or "help me get the better grades so that I can get into the school that I want to get into."
When was the last time we prayed a prayer that sounded like, "God, would you do whatever it takes to make your glory shine in my life?" I actually did that the other day...and Boy is it scary.
I'm gonna get honest with you for a second. I love where God has me in life right now. I get to lead a ministry that God has birthed in my heart as a vocation. That's quite a blessing! And when I prayed "God would you do whatever it takes to make me On Fire for you God?" I had thoughts of not getting to do wbc fulltime.
WBC for a fulltime job, or God?
What would you choose?
I want you to hear the truth. God is more satisfying that wakeboarding. God is more satisfying than this ministry. God is more satisfying than anything you can imagine.
To live is Christ, to die is gain! Do you believe that?
Lets look at some of Cat's top priorities.
Good health and a long life.
I came from a home that was very focused on "faith healing". The belief behind that is basically, "If you have enough faith, then God HAS to heal you." It's a very comfort, human focused mindset. Rest assured that God is completely sovereign and doesn't HAVE to do anything. When was the last time you prayed, "God if you can get more glory in my death than with the rest of my life, then take me home." (I actually had a friend pray that prayer once...he's still here bringing glory to God!)
To be safe and secure.
Where do you get your paycheck? From your work? From your boss? Who signs the checks?
Actually, you get your paycheck from God. He allows you to have the money that you do. I've enjoyed watching the economy tank and watching the "reliance factor" shift. For us to trust the government is a joke. For us to trust our jobs is a joke. For us to trust our paychecks is a joke. For us to trust social security is a joke. For us to trust "insurance" is a joke. God alone is our real security. God alone is our real "insurance". God alone is our everything.
He alone is your safety and security. Do you believe it?
To be blessed
Cats want to be blessed with comfort and a plush lifestyle. I actually had myself convinced earlier this year that I could "minister better with a better boat" because it was bigger and newer and better. What a load of crap! God in his infinite wisdom provided Boat Norris through Dan and this boat is everything we need for so many reasons. How arrogant, and self centered I am to think anything different. In what ways that you convinced yourself you "need" better things to carry out the plan that God has given you? I'm willing to bet if you just start acting out what he has told you to do, you'll be more fulfilled, and have more resources than you know what to do with.
Their local church to be blessed
In many Christian circles you'll get this.
"So what church do you go to?"
"So and so first church of something."
"Oh yeah? How many you running there on Sunday morning?"
"350. How about you guys?"
"750, and 3 services."
I remember going to Youth pastor conventions and left and right I ran into that. It's like going to a wakeboard tournament and seeing who is going to win. "What tricks you got?" "What tricks YOU got?"
What about THE Church? The body of Christ? What about our brothers and sisters in China, and Cambodia (which I'll be going to later this year)? When was the last time we prayed for God's glory to be displayed in HIS church rather than OUR church?
The chapter goes on, but you get the idea.
What is really the most important thing? After you answer that question I'd like you to assess what you really believe in reference to that.
Heavy stuff this week. Live like a dog everybody!