The community of Baltimore has been in the spotlight this week due to a recent outbreak of violence. Beginning early this week, several riots turned ugly and ended up spawning into arson, burglary, and even theft. The national guard was dispatched, and police in riot gear attempted to calm the crowd. Several nights of mandatory curfew were put into effect.
Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles club decided not to open up their game to the public on Wednesday afternoon. This game went down in the history books as the first ever baseball game with an official recorded attendance of 0. Several groups have tried to explain away the actions of these individuals. Some believe that these events were the results of a racism problem that’s crippled Baltimore since the 1960’s. Others have concluded that it was a viral social media message that pushed individuals to act out in a malicious fashion. Either way, we can learn a few things from the recent events of Baltimore.
Stirring the embers of sin with sin.
Sin is like a bag of your favorite chips. You never stop with just one. For example, one little white lie always leads to many, many more. In the Baltimore situation this week, one sin was stirred with many more sins, leading to an uncontrollable mob of sinful people taking part in sinful actions. Satan likes taking sin viral. Unfortunately, in today’s world that’s not hard to do. We need to be different. We need to be set apart, and take a stand against sin before it spirals out of control.
A Jesus response.
Free speech is a great thing, but when your free speech turns into looting, arson, and theft, then it becomes a problem. Jesus was a proponent of peaceful, free speech. He also gave us several fruit we should strive to live by in every situation; whether good or bad. We are to live with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul gives us this list in what we call the fruit of the spirit. If you’re upset, if you’re anxious, our response to any situation should be filled with these fruit. No matter what, our mission in life isn’t to live for ourselves, but share the most important message of all: Jesus.
So what can we do for Baltimore? Pray. Pray for peace. Pray that the people would be able to find comfort and hope in this time of uncertainty, confusion, and anger. Pray for the law enforcement of the Baltimore area that they might continue to serve faithfully, for their protection, and for their spirits. Most importantly, don’t forget to pray that the people of Baltimore would remember to honor Christ instead of stirring the embers of sin with more sin.
(Photo Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg)
What are your thoughts on Baltimore? Leave them in the comments below!
Looking back at the early church, or the church in the book of Acts, you can easily tell that church today is different. Most of the time, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the church is broken. First, let me clarify something. When I say church, I mean every believer on the planet. I don’t mean the church I’m working at, or the church you’re currently attending, but everyone who believes in Jesus.
If you haven’t read through the book of Acts, I encourage you to do so. Look at how those early believers had passion. Look at what they did. Afterwards, it’s easy to tell that today’s church is broken. We’re not as passionate as those early church believers were. Today’s church is more opening accepting of sin. Somewhere along the way, something went wrong. But what? Here’s what I think is wrong with today’s church.
Lack of Trust
God has called us to action. He’s called us to step out on that call. Today, Christian’s lack the trust to step out of their comfort zones and act out on that call.
Lack of Passion
What happened to the passion, boldness, and zeal that the early church had in the book of Acts? Did we lose it somewhere along the way? Are we missing something?
Tradition and ritual have chocked out the truth. We’ve completely forgot about the function and reason behind these practices, and put the importance on the tradition or ritual itself.
Acceptance of Culture
We’re growing more and more adapt to the society of sin. Tolerance has turned into acceptance.
Lost Love for God’s Word
We are growing a generation that’s prone to be Biblically-illiterate. Christian’s have lost sight of our God-breathed privilege.
Lost Love for Christ
Jesus loves you. It’s time we start loving him back.
The worst part is that these problems are only getting worse. There’s no question that today’s church has completely missed the mark. The good news of the story is that there’s still hope. Check back soon for my answer to this problem of epic proportions.
NOTE: This post is a remake of an original post, titled “What’s Wrong with the Church” that was posted on February 3rd, 2012. The original post, and it’s content also makes an appearance in my upcoming book, Wake Up.
(Photo by Flickr User: Paxson Woelber)
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below!
A lot of pastors today teach what’s called the prosperity gospel. Maybe you’ve heard this type of message before? This is where, we hear claims that the promises of God are just waiting at your footsteps. Prosperity preachers indicate that health, wealth, and happiness are what you always get when you walk with God. The problem with this prosperity gospel is that it isn’t the truth at all.
If you’re at all familiar with the Old Testament, you know of the prophets, like Jeremiah. Jeremiah was called by God, but not to a life of prosperity. He committed his whole life to doing God’s work, and in return was rewarded with a life of tears, torment, and torture. Like many of the other prophets of the O.T., Jeremiah is just one example of why the prosperity gospel just isn’t true. Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.
God never promised earthly reward.
Unfortunately, God never promised that this life would be easy. We’re all just a bunch of sinners living together on the same planet. There’s bound to be trouble eventually. Life itself has it’s fair share of challenges and difficulties we have to overcome. The fact of the matter is that God never promised his followers earthly reward. He didn’t say that this life would be easy, but he said that many would be persecuted. Look how they treated Jesus. That’s how you will be treated as a follower of Christ.
In the darkness of life, you’re not alone.
Though we were never promised an earthly reward for following Jesus, we are told that we’re not alone. God became flesh and lived a sinless life. After a few years of ministry, he was falsely accused, beaten, and tortured. He went to the cross on our behalf. Jesus lived through the worst of times for us. He warned his followers that there would be times when we’d be treated in a similar fashion. When we face one of life’s many difficulties, we need to remember that Jesus persevered through difficult times. He went to the cross. He can help you through it. We’re not alone when life gets dark.
There are many people that are struggling right now to get through the many challenges that life throws our way. We don’t need more false promises of health, wealth, and happiness. These lies only lead to disappointment. Instead we need to remember that life can get tough, but we’re not alone. If you’re experiencing a difficulty and would like to know more about how Jesus can help you through it, contact Scott today.
(Photo by Flickr User: Beverley Goodwin)
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Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever felt like you couldn’t do it on your own? I know Noah did. In the early pages of Genesis we read about a man who walked with God. Noah was clearly different from the rest of the world, which was deteriorating rapidly. Men and women were plain wicked. Genesis 6:5 sums it up perfectly when it says, “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Creation had turned completely evil.
In order to fix this mess, God decided to start over. He killed off the entire planet with a global flood. Maybe you remember the rest of the story: Noah, his family, and animals of every kind were spared. After 40 days and 40 nights of rain, and after the earth was covered in water for 150 days, something interesting happened. God remembered Noah.
Your life matters to God.
In Noah’s day, the world had turned so evil that God destroyed everybody except for one. Noah was different. He mattered to God. Have you ever realized that you matter to God too? Don’t worry, God won’t flood the earth again. God won’t kill off the entire population of earth and spare just one. He’s not going to call you to build an ark in your backyard, but you do matter to him. You matter so much that he willingly died on the cross to cover your sins.
Jesus gave up his own life in place of ours. Because of our sins, we had a price that had to be paid. Because of our wrongdoings, we aren’t able to enjoy the fellowship with God like Noah once had. But when God became flesh, all that changed. Jesus showed his love for us on the cross. He lived a perfect life in order to be the perfect sacrifice. He died, so that we could live with him. That’s how much you matter to God.
You can make all the difference.
Noah was called by God to construct the ark. He was told to build it using exact specifications in order to save mankind, and the rest of creation. Noah made all the difference. Like I said, God won’t call you to build an ark in your backyard in order to save the world from pending destruction. Though God won’t call you to build a boat, he does call you to life a live of action. In living out God’s purpose for your life, though you’re only one person, you can make all the difference like Noah did. Go live for God!
God remembered Noah. He mattered to God and made a difference. Like Noah, you also matter to God. When you live the life God called you to live, you can make all the difference too. If you haven’t started a relationship with Jesus, I encourage you to read through the Gospel message in full. Have questions? Want to begin that journey towards walking with God? Contact Scott today.
(Photo by Flickr User: Keoni Cabral)
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Over the last couple of days, my wife and I have been preparing for an upcoming garage sale. Going through old items can be a fun time to remember long lost memories. It can also be a great reminder of how much junk we collect throughout the years. I find myself saying things like, “Seriously? Why did I keep this?” While I was sorting through the piles of trash (or treasure…I guess it’s all about perspective) I was reminded of a passage in Luke 9:1-3.
Jesus gathers his disciples together and empowers them to go out and do ministry on their own, in order to continue the legacy that Jesus left. Think of this as an internship of sorts, where they’re finally sent out to do the work that they’ve been learning about for the past couple years. After giving a little pep-talk, Jesus sends them on their way, WITH NOTHING. The real question is why? Why does he tell them not to bring anything? I think there’s a couple of reasons.
Stuff doesn’t fulfill our needs. God does.
Our worldly possessions don’t really fulfill any need. No matter how new our stuff is, no matter how advanced, we’re still going to have a longing for something more. I believe we’re designed that way for a purpose. Think about it, when’s the last time you bought a new phone? How long did the initial excitement last? Probably a week at best. How long was it until you wanted something else? I’m going to guess you’ve felt this feeling at one point or another. This is how we’re built. Stuff doesn’t fulfill our needs, but God does.
Stuff gets in the way of God’s purpose for our life.
Like his disciples, Jesus has called all of his followers into ministry. We all are to take part in that internship program that the disciples went through. Every believer is do act out on the Great Commission, to share the Gospel. Unfortunately, not many do. Stuff can be a reason why we don’t. Why go talk about Jesus, when we can play video games, or watch television? Why spend time in God’s word, when we can spend time on social media? Stuff can be distracting. Jesus didn’t allow his disciples to be distracted from their true purpose in life.
Don’t get me wrong: Jesus isn’t saying to sell everything. Not everyone is called to do that. What he’s saying is that when your stuff is getting in the way of you discovering and acting out on your purpose, then ditch it! Never forget that your worldly possessions won’t fulfill your needs, but God does. Lose your stuff. Find Jesus.
(Photo by Flickr User: JD Hancock)
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Happy Saturday everyone! Since summer hasn’t arrived yet in Michigan (it has been snowing), what better way to relax this weekend, than to watch a good movie. Here’s a list of my top 10 favorite movies of all time…
#1. Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back
I’m a fan. What can I say?
#2. Star Wars – A New Hope
You should’ve seen this one coming. I said I was a fan.
#3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana at his finest! If you haven’t seen any of them, this is certainly the one to watch.
#4. Guardians of the Galaxy
Surprisingly, this is my favorite Marvel movie.
#5. Man on Fire
You don’t want to miss this action packed Denzel Washington thriller.
#6. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Shire is the coolest place in Middle-earth.
#7. Jurassic Park
The ultimate in Dinosaur entertainment.
#8. Toy Story
“The toys are alive!” (Bonus points for whoever knows what character said this quote.)
#9. Earth to Echo
A good mix between E.T., Cloverfield, and The Sandlot.
#10. The Dark Knight
BOOM! POW! WHAM! It’s Batman!
These movies didn’t make the list, but they’re great nonetheless: Live Free or Die Hard, Mission Impossible 3, The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, Cloverfield, and The Emperor’s New Groove.
***Keep in mind that not all these movies are family-friendly. If you’re thinking of watching one of these for the very first time with the family, I encourage you to first check out the Plugged In movie review.
(Photo by Flickr User: Personal Creations)
Agree? Disagree? Have additions? Let me know in the comments below!
The nation of Israel had left the slavery of Egypt, and had just spent 40 years wandering around the desert. Finally, God was telling them to take the land that was promised to them long ago. Joshua was the one that assumed the leadership role of the Jewish people. He sent spies into a town called Jericho in order to retrieve information prior to their conquest. The two men came across an unlikely of characters: a prostitute.
Rahab had heard what God was doing with the people of Israel. She and her family had heard the stories, and fear came upon them. The entire town of Jericho was afraid of what God could do to them. She was willing to do whatever it took to fight for that God. Are you?
Don’t let your past define you.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: we’ve all screwed up. At one time in our lives, we’ve all chosen sin over God. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul reminds us that nobody is righteous. Nobody alive can say that they’ve been a good person, because there’s no such thing. We all have pasts that we’re ashamed of. That’s why Jesus died. He took care of it. The price was paid on the cross. Don’t let your past haunt you. Don’t let it define you. Start fresh just like Rahab did. Begin on a new journey of life that God is calling you to.
Life isn’t about what you did. It’s about what you do.
Because we’ve sinned, we all get death. The good news is this: if you have come to know Jesus as your savior, your price has been paid. When we start a relationship with Jesus, our slate is wiped clean. This means that life isn’t about what you did, but instead about what you do. With Jesus, you have a fresh start. What are you using that fresh start for? What are you doing for Jesus? Go live for God, just like Rahab did.
Don’t let your past define you. God used Rahab, a prostitute. He can use you too! If you haven’t started a relationship with Jesus, I encourage you to do so. Take a minute and read through the good news. If you want to begin that relationship today, or if you have questions, I’d love to talk. Go live for Jesus!
(Photo by Flickr User: martinak15)
How has God been using you? Leave a comment below!
Christians are so cautious today about finding and focusing on God’s will for their lives, that sometimes it can be a hindrance. Often, any type of decision is one that we go to God for guidance. While Jesus modeled the life we should be living, and called us to live something similar, He doesn’t really care about the little decisions we make. What I mean is that God doesn’t really care what fast-food restaurant you choose to eat at. He doesn’t have an opinion on what team you should cheer for, or what color socks you should wear.
But what about when the big life decisions roll around? What then? How can we truly find God’s will in our specific situations? Last night, I taught a similar lesson to my local church youth group, and I thought it would be a fitting blog post for today. Here’s a few things you can do when you’re searching for God’s will.
Journey Through God’s Word
When you’re searching for God’s will in your life, what better thing to do then spend time in His word? Personally, it was after spending a lot of time reading scripture that pushed me to hear God’s call on my life into ministry. If you’re planning on hearing from God, you’re not going to do so unless you’re spending time in His word.
Spend Time in Prayer
Prayer is another thing we take for granted. In the beginning, God created everything. He made Adam and Eve from the dust of the ground. He breathed life into you and me, and we can talk directly to Him. Prayer is such a powerful thing. If you’re planning on hearing from God, it’s not going to happen if you’re not praying.
Listen to the Holy Spirit
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit lives inside you. I know, creepy. When we come to believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we are filled with God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is there to guide us, comforts us, and helps us in times of need. If you’re planning on hearing from God, start listening.
Listen to What People Have to Say
Surprisingly, God put people in our lives for a reason. If someone has experience in a certain area that you are questioning, talk with them. They’re experts for a reason. Go talk to people. Get advice from those that know what they’re talking about. If you’re planning on hearing from God, listen to what people have to say.
No matter what you’ve heard, God made you special and he made you with purpose. Find that purpose today, and start living the life you were created to live!
(Photo by Flickr User: Damian Gadal)
Let’s face it: life is a battle. Every day is a journey filled with many obstacles to overcome. In the Bible, God describes an even larger battle that’s ongoing. It’s the battle of good against evil. In the beginning, sin entered the world through Adam & Eve. We’ve all done it. We’ve all sinned. At one point or another, we’ve chosen to satisfy our own selfish desires instead of following God. In the battle of life, sin is on one side of the battlefield. What’s on the other side though?
In 1 John 4:8, we see that whoever doesn’t love, doesn’t truly know God. In the last part of that verse, we read that God is love. In this battle of life we speak of, sin is up against it’s nemesis: love. These two are like water and oil. They simply don’t mix. It’s a battle out there. Here’s why…
Selfishness is the Root of Sin
Sin comes in many shapes and sizes. We’ve all been there at one point or another. We’ve all fallen short. We’ve all stolen the cookies out of the cookie jar when we shouldn’t have. Everyone has lied, cheated, or taken unethical shortcuts. The truth is, nobody is perfect. We’ve all sinned because we want to satisfy our own selfish desires. We’ve taken the cookies because they seemed desirable at the time. We’ve lied because it seemed to be the best thing to make ourselves look good. Selfishness is behind all sin.
Humility is the Root of Love
A constant theme of scripture is the idea of humility. We’re told to have a realistic view of ourselves. We shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves, and at the same time we shouldn’t think too less of ourselves. No matter how much you don’t want to hear it, you’re not God. At the same time, you aren’t dirt. You’re somewhere in between. As followers of Jesus we’re called to love just like he did on the cross. Jesus paid our price on the cross. He didn’t shed his blood for any of his own purposes, but for our benefit. He was humble and he did it because he loved. Love humility in action.
Love is a Direct Attack on Sin
Life is a battle. It’s sin against love. Satan is pushing for sin. He wants to push you and me into a lifestyle of selfish pleasures. God on the other hand is pushing for something more. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, paid our price in full, so that we could live. He wants us to share this good news of love with the world, by speaking words of love and living a life of love. He wants us to fight sin with love!
Everyday we have a choice. We can either satisfy the desires of the flesh, or we can choose to put others before ourselves. Today, I choose love. I hope you do too. Join the fight. Let’s destroy sin with love. As always, don’t forget to comment below and subscribe to occasional email updates.
(Photo by Flickr User: photosteve101)