Archives For Live

Emerging from his blanket covered tunnel, Judah said he couldn’t find his way out. Cassie, using this as a spiritual teaching moment, reminds Judah he can always pray and ask Jesus for help. Judah quickly replies, “Nah, I can do it myself.”

Yes, son, you’re a sinner in need of grace. #JustLikeUsAll

I had the privilege of going to dinner with my wife tonight. I don’t say this to be a slap in your face, especially if you are single and are reading this. And for those who are married and reading this, well, thanks for reading.

Back to what I was saying…I had dinner with my wife of 10 years tonight in Valentines. I didn’t meet Cassie because I was looking for someone to date—much less marry.

I wasn’t focused on meeting the right person. I wasn’t worried about meeting the right person.

Someone taught me some advice that I want to share with you and I hope it carries you through. (I didn’t intend on the rhyme)

Don’t worry about meeting the right person. Work on becoming the right person and the right person will eventually come.

I love what a pastor said a couple years ago. It’s so good I wish I could tell every single person.

Become the person you are looking for is looking for.

So are you single and still reading this?

Don’t spend your time working or worrying about finding the right person, work on becoming the right person the person you are looking for is looking for.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 (NIV)

How do you know if someone is being sincere or just putting on a Christian show? What does it look like to follow Jesus?

The answers to this question are in this chapter of Romans.

To have a sincere love means you hate evil. No one wants harm to come to someone they love.

To have a sincere love is to me loyal to them even when your reputation and comfort are on the line.

To have a sincere love is honor others by placing their needs above you own. We honor when we give the other person preference in the matter.

Love is sourced and executed in our passion to serve our God by working hard and not being lazy.

Love’s strength is found in our hope that gives is joy. Love is patient when being persecuted. Love remains faithful.

Love shares. Love shares with those who are in need. The child of God is not entitled to excess but is accountable for the excess we have collected.

The way we hold things loosely is being quick to give to others in need.

And last, love shows hospitality. Hospitality is simply anticipating the need and serving a need before it is expressed.

My next step:
Embrace the effort needed to show love.

We’ve all met them, and at some point a lot of us have been the person who thought we could live the Christian walk without the church, or other Christ followers—the body of Christ.

There are two core thoughts that leads 99% of people down this road: “I don’t need anyone else, I can do this on my own.” Or, “They are all wrong and I am right, so I don’t need them.”

In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he gives the church the doctrines by which to build their faith in the first half of the letter. The. In the second part of his letter, he lays out how this grace and spirit-filled life operates and looks.

In chapter 12, Paul addresses those in the church who might become proud, thinking they are better than others. This idea they are better than others leads them to think that they don’t need the others.

But Paul addresses this straight on.

“Don’t think you are better than others.” To think you don’t need each other or the church is a prideful statement.

We need and belong to each other. Paul says you belong to each other. The arm belongs to the hand and the hand belongs to the arm. The arm doesn’t say “I don’t need my hand today.” To think you don’t need others is to think of yourself more highly than you ought.

The reality is we were made to belong to one another. We were made to support one another. We were designed and positioned to care for one another. We were called to equip one another. To say I don’t need you is to think of myself more highly than I need to. It’s as if I’m “drunk” on me and I need to “sober” up.

We are all parts of the church, the body of Christ and we need each other. Denominations need other denominations. Baptists need Pentecostals. Presbyterians need Charismatics. Reformers need seeker sensitive. Why? because we belong to each other and we shouldn’t think that our way is the only way or our expression is the only expression

This is why I cringe when someone starts talking bad about another church. We are called to belong to each other not separate ourselves from each other.

The way we are there for each other is by identifying our spiritual gift and using it. If you can serve then serve. If you can lead, then lead. What has God equipped you with so you can use to minister to someone else? How has God positioned you, even though it’s uncomfortable for you, to belong to someone else? Whatever God has gifted you with, use it to belong to the body of Jesus.

My next step:
Identify and use my gift and help others to identify and use their gifts to minister to each other.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1, 2 (NIV)

Have you ever put a picture of yourself on the refrigerator to motivate you to lose weight or to keep off the weight you lost? Every time you go to that rectangular cold box you see that image and you have a choice: “I can eat something healthy and improve.” Or, “I can eat something that I want to eat and remain the same or go back to what I came from.”

If you had already lost the weight, that picture is a reminder of the effort it took to get you where you are now. You don’t want to waste all those days. You don’t want to throw away the pain of the extra exercise or the discipline of saying “no” to what would have tasted really good.

In light of where you have come from you make a choice to change from those habits and choose to discipline yourself one more time as you grab that plumb instead of the piece of pie your friend “accidentally” left.

When we look at the picture of ourselves before we met Jesus, we were in “bad shape.” We couldn’t meet the standard that God had set to have a relationship with Him. We could try, but every time we just fail with each attempt.

Then we look at ourselves after our encounter with Jesus’ mercy. We have a new life. All the excess baggage we carried around like guilt, condemnation, imperfection, anger, pride, greed, and jealousy are now a part of that “used to be” photo on the refrigerator. And all this is because God, in His mercy, sent Jesus to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves.

In light of God’s mercy we respond like the dieter who looks at the old pic of themselves and how far they have come. We look at ourselves spiritually and we see how much Jesus has done for us. All that He did that we couldn’t do. Living the perfect life. Fulfilling a law that only pointed out our inadequacies. Paying a fine that we owed for our sin by giving his life as the payment. Then rising again and inviting us to participate in this new life with Him at no cost to us. We see where Jesus has brought us to and what He’s brought us from. It’s easier the. to be disciplined when that girl walks by, or that opportunity comes to serve someone. It’s not as hard to “offer our bodies” as an act of worship.

It becomes easier to honor God with my conversations. It isn’t as difficult to say no to things I know I shouldn’t do.

Why? Because I see it all in view of God’s mercy of where He has brought me.

Then it becomes a lot easier to not adopt the worlds thinking. I find myself changing the way I think. It all comes into alignment when I place it in the shadow of God’s mercy for me.

God’s wi will always find a life like this.

So let me ask you? Do you see where God has brought you from whenever you face a decision to conform to this world or to be disciplined and “offer your body” as an offering?

Do you think about what God’s mercy has done for you before you chose to do something He isn’t pleased with?

Only when we align our eves by remembering God’s mercy will we be able to be transformed into Jesus likeness and not conformed to this world.

My next step:
Remember what God has saved me from before I chose to make a decision that would reflect who I used to be before I met Jesus.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV)

Have you ever heard a coach tell a player, “you’re not worthy to be on this team”? Or a boss tell an employee, “you’re not qualified enough for your position”? Or even worse, when a parent responds to their child saying, “You’re not worthy to be my son or daughter.”

Maybe you have one of these said about you in your lifetime. These words cut deep. They hurt. They wound. They leave us limping as thy injure us. We don’t want them to, but they do.

Maybe, you have had this thought of God. If I’m not good enough to be worthy of my position at work or a relationship with my parents or my spouse, the. How would God see me as worthy to be accepted by Him?

After all, we need measure up. We can’t even hold the standard we set for others to live by. How then could God accept us when we break our own rules, let alone God’s rules.

If you have ever felt this way, Paul said this prayer for you. In this passage Paul records his prayer for the church of Colosse. His words give you and I hope because they are not directives that we carry out in our own capabilities. They are ways we submit and allow God’s spirit to live through us.

First, God is the giver—and the One responsible—of dispensing his wisdom and understanding, through His Spirit. This enables us to know His will.

We can’t know God’s will in our own efforts. We can’t gain that understating by ourselves. We are lead to this knowledge and understanding with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Second, knowing God’s will is the necessary component to pleasing God and being considered worthy of Him. But notice, this doesn’t originate with you and me. It originates with God. Living according to God’s will is synonymous with pleasing God.

A life that pleases God has a specific trait:

Third, we bear fruit; we grow in our knowledge of God; and we are strengthen by His might so we can build endurance. These are the result of a life that pleases God.

But here’s where we stop because we don’t see our life hitting this benchmark that has been set. Let me remind you that this a prayer of what would be ideal. It’s here, though, where we feel unworthy to be associated with God because clearly we are unqualified for the position.

This is where Paul changes his tone…

Fourth, we can be thankful because we don’t have to qualify ourselves for this, God has qualified us already! What are we qualified for? To share in His inheritance.

How do we get this privilege? How are we given this access pass? This qualification?

We are given this qualification of being “worthy” because God is a Savior, our Rescuer. He grants us access to the kingdom His Son lives in. It is through Jesus, alone, we have been forgiven of our “unworthiness.” Jesus did this by paying not just our bail but paying the apprise amount to redeem us and make us right before God.

So when you think you are unworthy, maybe you have forgotten what Jesus did to make you worthy. He valued you and I so much that He thought you were “worth it.” “Worth” the cost of leaving heaven. “Worth” the cost of dying I. Our stead. “Worth the cost” of paying for you and I to be seen as “worthy” to live for Him.

So do you see yourself as “worthy?”

My next step:
Don’t base my self-worth on what I do or have done. Base my self-worth on what Jesus has done for me.

What’s your next step?

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. Matthew 7:21-29 (NIV)

Do you ever wonder how good you have to be to get to heaven? Is my church attendance recorded in a big book next to St. Peter? Do I need to do great exploits for God to get in?

In this passage, Jesus makes a haunting statement. He says (my summary) many think they will get in, but not everyone will get in?

So who makes it and how do get on that list?

This statement of Jesus is on the tail end of his shocking statement saying “narrow is the road that leads to eternal life and few find it.”

Jesus shatters the world of some who think they can “do” there way to heaven. “Many will come saying.. ” Did we not speak on your behalf? Did we not cast out evil? Did we not heal the sick? Doesn’t what we do give us any credit to get into your kingdom?

And Jesus says “no!” None of that is what I’m looking for. The kingdom of God is not given to those who think they can earn their way there.

The kingdom of God is for those who have a relationship with god through trusting Jesus as their Lord.

Jesus equates trying to do good to enter the kingdom of God with being evil. That’s hard, isn’t it?!

So who gets in?

Simple. And it’s seems complicated.. You’ll see why.

Jesus says those who do the will of the Father will receive heaven.

What is the will of the Father? To be in a relationship with Him. That’s why we were created. That’s why Jesus came. Jesus came to restore everything to their original purpose.

He restores our relationship with God by giving us His righteousness (ability to do right) to substitute for our righteousness.

Once we walk in this grace and trust Jesus as our Lord we know we don’t have to earn anything. We then can take the commands if Jesus and put them into practice as a wise builder.

My next step:
Continue to trust Jesus as the only way I can be right with God and then follow what he says as a reflection of my trust in him.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Matthew 7:13-20 (NIV)

There are many people who have come along through the centuries who claim they have the secret to eternal life. How do you know who is right?

Are Christians correct? Are Muslims included? What about Buddhist—surely they are good people who will go to heaven. And what about just good moral people who believe there is a God?

Who’s included? All groups? Or is this eternal “reward” reserved for only one lucky tribe?

Every religion has their own approach to God that has been passed down from generation to generation. They all have leaders who were moral men and women with a desire to see people live after we die. But only one leader gave a prediction that would either make him crazy or would validate he is King. Jesus predicted he would die and he would rise again from the dead. No one else has made that prediction and pulled it off. Only Jesus.

Why do we believe that there is only one way to God and that road goes through Jesus? Because the man who said he would die and come back to life three days later and did exactly that said he “is the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through” him (John 14:6). If Jesus says he’s the only way to God, I believe it. I don’t believe it because I hate other religions. No. I believe it because Jesus came back to life. If Jesus didn’t come back to life, then I would be on board with the idea there are multiple roads to God. But since Jesus died and rose again and more than 500 people saw this—and it wasn’t a hallucination, no matter what your Western Civ prof said—then if Jesus says he’s the only way, I believe he’s the only way.

Muslims, although they have good intentions in living for peace, don’t have access to God. Buddhists, even though they are centered, don’t have a connection with God, the Father. Those who believe in God, and hope they will have enough “good” merit points on the board to outnumber their “bad” merits to have God grant them the “golden ticket” to heaven, will be disappointed.

When Jesus says that the gate to eternal life is small and it’s road is narrow and wide is the path that leads to destruction, he is warning his listeners there is only one way to eternal life. Many roads don’t lead to heaven. The most popular route doesn’t get you there. There is only one way to having a relationship with God and receiving life after we die. It comes from the only One who died for us and came back to life—as he predicted—to give eternal life to those who turn to him and trust Him as their Savior.

So what road are you on? Trying to get it on your own effort? Trying to be good enough for God? Or do you think if you follow a little bit of every religion you will have enough of each to in your account if one is the right way over another.

My next step:
Life like Jesus is the only way so others will see the way to him through me.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

I was looking for a way to simply this statement, but I couldn’t come up with anything more simple and clear than what Jesus says.

What if we talked to everyone with the respect we feel we deserve?

What if we worked like the employee we would want working for us?

What if we did that job as if we were the ones who hired us?

What if we were the friend we wanted to have?

What if we judged others the way we wanted to be judged?

What if we treated others in need the way we would want to be treated?

What if we were the spouse we want our spouse to be?

This is the goal of the law and prophets. The bottom line of those commands are to treat others as you want them to treat you.

My Next Step:
In every situation, think how I want to be treated, and treat the other person the same way.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV)

Do you ever assume the answer so you don’t even ask the question? Like when you see the stickers all over the counter and the only people in the room are you and your child. You look at the stickers and look at your smiling three year old and don’t even ask who did it.

What about with God? Do you do this with Him? You don’t think He’ll hear your prayer, much less answer it, so you avoid asking all together.

Have you had a question you wanted to know the answer to so badly that you stayed awake googling it to find it?

Or what about this? Were you ever so desperate to find a job that you went door to door asking to fill out an application until someone hired you?

These are descriptions of the effort that Jesus says you will find what you are looking for should you apply the effort.

Have a question or prayer that only God can answer? Ask it and you will receive.

Have something you are searching for? Seek it and you will find it.

Is there an area of your life where you need to continue to knock until the door opens?

Jesus tells us we can ask God for help, seek God, and knock on His door at any time and He will respond to us as a Father would His child and give us what we need.

Why? Because God is good and that can’t change.

My next step:
Don’t assume that God doesn’t want to hear my requests, but ask, seek, and knock and trust my Heavenly Father to answer.