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April 4, 2016, 8:36 AM

Your Self Worth


In our Sunday School class yesterday (04/03) I recalled a mind-blowing discovery I had this week:  God had prepared for Israel's demands for a King.  This may not blow your minds yet, so let me expand the thought process.  

In the period of the Judges, God had prepared a system of leadership that was effective, but temporary and volatile at best.  These people were not meant for a totalitarian style of leadership, nor were they a suitable form of nation-wide, long term, create a lineage of monarchy style governing.  The period ended with Samuel taking the place as God's chosen mouthpiece to the people.

In his time (Sam's), the people's eyes start wandering to the nations around them, discovering the power and stature that comes with having a physical centerpiece of rule to act as the figure head of a nation.  Jealousy ensues and we get the act of rebellion that finally breaks Samuel's back.  They reject "him" as their leader and want a king.  God corrects Samuel's interpretation of their rebellion and clarifies that Israel has rebelled against God, not anyone earthly.  

We read this chapter and shake our heads at the ignorance, short-sightedness, and sinful desires of Israel.  They become a punch line to sermon points:  "Don't be like Israel, Church..."  And yet...  And yet... God had planned for this all along.  

He loves and cherishes his people so much that within that love he plans to use and work with their rebellion and disobedience.  Within Israel's own law is a caveat for the behavior of a King.  Not just a king of some foreign nation, but the king over Israel.  (Deuteronomy 17:14 - 20).  He declared in his promise to Abraham AND Sarah (so there's no confusion which son he's blessing) that among their descendants will be kings.  

God loves us so much he plans ahead to cover our lack of faith, trust, and obedience!  He loves us so much that he still uses our poor choices to further his kingdom and create beauty!  

And if that doesnt change what you see reflected in the mirror, you need to read your history books again.  Through the law, the wanderings, the Judges, and even the wars, God reflects his compassion on us.  And he proves again and again how much we are worth to him.  Even when we demand a king.  

Romans 8: 35 - 39    

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” )  37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.




March 28, 2016, 8:51 AM

What's Different After Easter and Resurrection Sunday?

Everything. 




March 21, 2016, 9:29 AM

Call EMS!!!

Lets start with a question.  What are your signs of life?  As human beings, a part of a very active society we have certain signs of life.  At the most basic level, we breathe, eat, have blood flowing through our veins, etc...  On a grander scale there are signs that we are living and active beings.  We walk, run, crawl, speak, laugh, etc..  And beyond that we have a social life (for the most part!).  We have families, friends, coworkers, etc...  

We give off signs of life with everything we do. If I were to drive by your house an any given day of the week, I would most likely see signs of life.  You would be out mowing your lawn, sitting on the porch, talking and interacting with your family, or whatever it is you do when you get off of work.  It would be obvious, even to the simplest of minds, that someone lives in your house.  

So lets turn that on to our spiritual lives.  We also have spiritual signs of life, which include prayer, study, faith, etc…  I ask you this question church, ARE YOU ALIVE?  You see, a complete stranger could figure out if you are physically alive from far away.  But do your closest friends and family members know you are spiritually alive??  Are we hiding all signs that God is active in our lives?  I am not confronting the evangelism issue here, I am confronting the basic actions necessary to sustain a spiritual life.  

If there was a way to check your pulse spiritually, would you have people calling 911 for you?  Our Savior gave everything he had for us, and yet we hide.  We have been offered a free trip through eternity, and yet we ‘fake it’.  We have been offered an ABUNDANT LIFE, and yet we go through the motions…  

Its a simple message for a complex time:  Live Life Out Loud!  Express gratitude; Ask Forgiveness (and offer it freely); Be Polite; Give Generously; and Serve Humbly.  Make sure that everyone knows we're spiritually alive!

Romans 6: 5 - 11 (NLT) 5Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.6We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.8And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.9We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.11So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.




March 14, 2016, 8:06 AM

All Other Ground


I used to think quicksand was going to be a major obstacle I would have to overcome at some point in my life.  Much like "Stop, Drop, and Roll" I was certain my quicksand survival technique was going to come in handy (I've never had to "stop, drop and roll" either...).  

Today, the song in my head is this chorus:  "On Christ the solid rock I stand, All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand."   I dont know why its in there, or why it was what I hummed throughout my early day routine.  But its there, so I'm going to talk to you about it now.  

There's a word in there that sticks out to me:  ALL.  All other ground.  Everything but Christ is sinking sand, not a suitable place for a foundation.  Nothing but Christ.  Hear that?  It is a truth, expressed in song, that must be more than just a catchy tune.  

When life comes crashing down, where is our foundation?  Will wealth and reputation reach out to us in grief?  Will the treasures of the world comfort our souls in sickness?  Does anything, but Christ, have the ability to use words like "always" and "never?"  The only person that can use infinitives is God, as he Was, Is, and Will Be.  

Which foundation have we chosen?  




March 7, 2016, 8:37 AM

Out on a Limb.


I dont take risks.  I play it safe.  Because of this sensibility, I have yet to suffer a broken bone, or other risk-induced malady.  Sure, I dream of sky diving, and climbing Mt. Everest; but lets be honest, I've no plans to write those in on my schedule.  

Is that a bad thing?  Nope.  I like not having to deal with a broken arm or leg.  I like being comfortable.   There are other areas we are prone to not take risks in either.  Places that would result in things far more lasting and impactful than a broken bone, or some bruises:  Living faith out loud.  There are a lot of things I really like to talk about.......in church, in small group, and in my home.  But I am hesitant to live those same ideals out loud, outside the zones of comfort and safety I've set up. 

When we follow Jesus we make, looking realistically, some pretty dramatic and outrageous claims.  "Dying to self."  "All to Jesus I Surrender.... I Surrender All..."  "I am mine no more..."  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  

All of these roll from our lips quickly, easily, and often in the form of a song we've sung for decades.  Do they roll out in our actions just as easily?  

Honestly:  Its hard to live these concepts to their fullest.  We cant help but sprinkle our own experiences, biases, and interpretations into them.  For example: I cant help but look self-centered when I'm trying to be extra generous or compassionate. 

As we continue through The Story, we paused this week with Ruth and her book that is placed both perfectly and awkwardly between Judges and 1 Samuel.  It is a calm story that shows what loyalty and redemption looks like (without swords, amazing feats of strength, etc...).  I've overlooked it for too long.  Within its pages are the actions, words, and heart of Jesus.  Boaz breaks down the barriers of conflict, hate, prejudice, and war by showing love and acceptance.  He elevates a poor widow from a beggar to cherished wife among the legacy and line of Jesus.  

Boaz lives the message of the Christ (whom he had no concept of outside of the sacrificial system installed in the law at the time) out loud, walking out on a limb to redeem someone through love.  

We know Christ, honoring him every week, remembering the power of the Cross.  Will we live that knowledge out loud?  

James 1: 22 - 25   22But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.23For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.24You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.25But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.  NLT


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