Jonah

Why Most Christians Are Like Jonah

In today’s day and age, it doesn’t take much flipping through the news to discover that the world’s gone mad. Daily, we’re bombarded with messages of terrorism, scandals, sex-changes, and the like. It’s enough to drive any sane person off the deep end. But, what’s more out of this world is that there have been cultures in the past that have been through this before. One city in particular that is similar to today was called Nineveh. It was a place of importance in the Assyrian empire. During the Assyrian empire’s heights, Nineveh was one of the capitol cities and one of the greatest cities in the entire world. Unfortunately, the city was also defined by it’s rampant idolatry and immorality.

Jonah was the prophet of the day that was called by God to reach out to Nineveh, but Jonah had other plans. Instead of acting out on God’s call to bring repentance to a hurting land, Jonah ran. According to the book of Jonah, while he was at sea, a great fish swallowed Jonah. After 3 days and 3 nights inside the belly of the beast, Jonah cried out to God in repentance himself. After being vomited out onto dry land, Jonah immediately headed towards Nineveh. He preached there about God’s coming judgement upon the land, and the people repented. In many ways, Jonah is like most Christians today. Here’s why…

 

We’re called to share the Gospel.

In scripture, we read that the word of the Lord came to Jonah and that he was told to go to Nineveh and call out against their evil ways. Similarly, we too are called to go and call out, but in a different way. After the resurrection, in the Great Commission, Jesus told his followers to go into the world and make disciples. He told his followers to share the Gospel. A short while later, moments before his ascension, Jesus tells his followers that they’d be given the Holy Spirit in order for them to be his witnesses. If you’re a believer in Jesus, you too are called to share the Gospel. We’re called to go out and call out against sin, to share the good news of Jesus. This calling isn’t optional. It’s mandatory. It might have took getting swallowed by a great fish, but Jonah finally understood that he didn’t have a choice. Learn from Jonah: a calling isn’t optional.

 

Instead of answering the call, we usually run.

Jonah received his calling, and he immediately had other plans. God wanted him to go to Nineveh, but instead Jonah headed towards Tarshish. Jonah fled for his own selfish reasons. Likewise, today we often flee in these times. God’s given everyone a calling to go into the world and share the Gospel. We are told continuously throughout scripture to not only share what Christ has done, but how he’s worked in our lives. We’re commanded to share the Gospel and share our testimonies. But, when the opportunity presents itself to do just that, how many of us actually overcome our fears and act out on this calling? I know many who flee just like Jonah. The world today is in rough shape. We’re not in need of more Christians who flee from their calling to share Jesus. In this day and age filled with idolatry, immorality, and impurity, the world needs genuine Christ followers who will stop at nothing to see that the love of Jesus is shared with the entire world.

 

God uses the broken.

What’s cool is that even after Jonah’s refusal to act and his outright disobedience, God continued to use Jonah. Jonah ran, God had a great fish swallow him up. Jonah reluctantly preached with a bad attitude, and God used his words. We too are broken people. We’ve sinned. We’ve all fallen short. Yet, God continues to use us for his glory. Sure, we’re not perfect, but we’re exactly who God wants to use for his purposes. Don’t use your brokenness as an excuse not to act. Jonah was broken, and God used him. God can use you to.

 

Too often, I find myself comparing the sinful world of today with communities such as Nineveh. Sin is everywhere, but God put on flesh to take care of it. He died on the cross to pay for our sins in full, and he was raised from the dead in order that we might have life, and have it abundantly. This Gospel, must be shared with the world in order to bring repentance and healing to a broken land. Want to change the world? Stop running from God, and start sharing Jesus.

 

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Thoughts? Leave a comment below!

Domino Effect

The Domino Effect

During my time of reading this morning, I came across an interesting story about a vineyard. In 1 Kings 21, we’re introduced to Naboth the Jezreelite and reminded of Ahab, king of Samaria. The text says that Naboth had a vineyard that was beside Ahab’s palace. It must’ve been in a great location because Ahab wanted it, a lot. He wanted it so bad that he decided, one day, to ask Naboth for that very vineyard in order that he might use it for a vegetable garden. Unfortunately for Ahab, Naboth turned down his offer. Seeking to get possession of the vineyard, Ahab spoke with his wife, Jezebel, who would help him carry out an elaborate plan that would make the vineyard his. They sent letters to the region and told the town to elect Naboth as head over them. Then, Jezebel sent a couple of men in to stir up false accusations against Naboth. These accusations were so serious that Naboth was carried out and stoned to death.

At one point or another, we’ve all been to the point where we’ve looked at something and have coveted. Maybe it’s not the neighbor’s vineyard. Perhaps it was their shiny new car, or their grill, or even their house. The point is, we all do it. We all see advertisements for something and yell I want! Unfortunately in my study throughout scripture, I’ve come to the conclusion that covetousness always opens the door for all other sins. In Ahab’s case, he first wanted his neighbor’s vineyard, but this covetousness quickly became a murder scene. In my post today, I wish to shed some light on the most popular Biblical stories of this domino effect in action, and give an appropriate response in solving this covetousness.

 

In Eden

God had spent 6 days creating everything from nothing. He made his finest creation yet, Adam and Eve. They were given commands to have dominion over the garden, to be fruitful and multiply, and to fill the earth. They were also told one thing that they couldn’t do: eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. They had the freedom to do just about anything. There was just one tree they had to stay away from. Adam and Eve wanted what they couldn’t have. They saw the tree and they coveted. The serpent persuaded Eve to eat from the forbidden tree, who in turn convinced Adam. Once God came along to assess the situation, Adam and Eve ran like children in an attempt to hide from God. Their covetousness led to an attempt to deceive God. The first sin of Eden was the sin of covetousness, which led to a domino effect of sin.

 

In The Promised Land

Israel had spent years wandering about in the desert after their Exodus from Egypt. It was finally time for them to enter the land God had promised them long ago. Jericho was the major city that was standing in their way. After a long drawn out plan that God had revealed to Joshua, God brought the city walls down and delivered Jericho into their hands. The Israelites were told to leave all the spoil (all the silver, gold, bronze, and iron) for God. They were to put all of it in the treasury of the Lord. Unfortunately for Israel, there was one who didn’t listen. Achan saw among the wreckage a beautiful cloak, some silver, and a bar of gold, and said, I want. He coveted the material and the money and decided to keep it from God. In order to keep this a secret, he buried his loot in a hole underneath his tent. Achan’s covetousness led to an attempt to deceive God. The first sin of Israel was the sin of covetousness, which led to a domino effect of sin.

 

In The Early Church

Jesus had spent a few years doing ministry and just like that he was gone. He died on the cross for our sins and was raised from the dead so that we could have life. This Gospel, or good news, was spread through the region like wildfire because of the passion of the early church. One member of the church, Joseph, was blessed by God. He was impacted so much by the Gospel, that he felt called to sell a field that belonged to him and return the profits to the church. After doing so, Ananias and Sapphira saw a higher spiritual status and said, we want. They too decided to sell a piece of land, but kept back some of the profits for themselves. Instead of being honest, they made it seem like the profits they were giving were everything. They were quickly discovered and killed. Ananias and Sapphira’s covetousness led to an attempt to deceive God. The first sin of the early church was the sin of covetousness, which led to a domino effect of sin.

 

Like what happened in Eden, in Israel upon entering the promised land, and in the early church, covetousness always opens the door for all other sins. We need to stop saying, “I want”, and instead focus on what we already have. When covetousness comes your way, count your blessings. Memorial Day was this past Monday. Memorial Day is a great time to remember those that have died defending the freedoms and rights we have in this great nation. We have so much that others don’t. When covetousness comes your way, remember those less fortunate. I’ve been blessed with the ability of serving on several foreign missions trips. It’s during trips like these that I am pushed to remember how fortunate we really are. Most importantly, when covetousness comes your way, remember the gospel. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. The price that we were supposed to pay was paid in full. Like that’s not enough, he then was raised from the dead to show that through faith in Him we can have life. We’ve been given the greatest gift of all. What else should we ever covet?

 

(Photo by Flickr user: Bruno Cordioli)

Life Changer

The Life Changer

Maybe you’ve heard my story. Then again, maybe you haven’t. Either way, my story, and several others like it, serve as great reminders for how Jesus can change lives. But before we get into a few of the lives that Jesus changed, let’s take a look at the life of Jesus. His story begins, not in the gospel accounts of the New Testament, but in the beginning of scripture. God had just spent 6 days creating all things. He created the birds, the trees, and his best creation yet: Adam & Eve. In the garden, Adam and Eve were free to do just about anything, except eat from one tree. Like a child who’s told to stay away from the cookie jar, Adam and Eve go right to that very tree God told them to steer clear of. As punishment for their sins, God brings death into the world.

That death is a price we couldn’t repay. Sure, we can die a physical death, but spiritual death, or separation from God, is a death that none of us would like to experience. That’s why God put on flesh. Some 2,000 years ago, a child was born of a virgin. He grew up a carpenter, and when he was in his early 30’s, he began a life of ministry that would change the world. He performed healings, walked on water, raised people from the dead, changed water into wine, calmed storms, and even made the lame walk. Jesus changed lives in his few years he spent doing earthly ministry, but it wasn’t until he went to the cross when lives were truly changed. He died a gruesome death at the hands of the Romans, and was buried in a guarded tomb. Three days later, that tomb was empty. That’s when Jesus started changing people.

 

Peter & The Disciples

Peter and the other disciples were the firsthand witnesses of Jesus’ ministry and his final days. They saw the brutality that the Romans showed to Jesus. The disciples were there, watching Jesus on trial in front of the powers that be. They were there when Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion. Christ’s disciples watched during the countless hours as Jesus hang bleeding on the cross. They saw him die, and witnessed his burial. For them, the promise of everything that this Messiah would bring was now over. In the days following the crucifixion, Peter and the other disciples were hopeless without Jesus, and were fearful that they were next on the Roman hit-list. But, Jesus didn’t stay dead. Following the resurrection, the disciples became confident, and bold. They were changed so much that instead of hiding, they were able to stand in front of crowds and proclaim the risen Christ. Peter and the disciples were so confident in this truth that they were willing to go to brutal deaths themselves for it. Lives were changed by Jesus.

 

Paul

Paul knew of Jesus before his final days, but in a different way than the disciples knew Jesus. Paul (or Saul) was a Pharisee trained by Gamaliel. (For those of you that don’t know anything about Gamaliel think of this as sort of a Jedi-Master, Jedi-Knight sort of thing.) He was brought up to be a very successful man of faith. But this faith was completely against everything that Jesus stood for. In fact, the message of Christ was a threat to the Pharisees. That’s why they pushed to have Jesus crucified, and that’s why Paul was instrumental in persecuting the early church. The disciples lives were changed after Jesus was raised from the dead. They went out and they shared this good news with the world. Paul was the one that committed his life to stopping this message. He’d do just about anything to stop this message from spreading, until he had a similar life change on the road to Damascus. Paul saw the risen Jesus, and his life was immediately changed. He became a powerhouse preacher for the early church and went on to start several churches throughout the region.

 

My Life

Similarly, my life was changed by Jesus. At a young age, I accepted Christ during a vacation bible school program at my local church. In the weeks that followed, I was baptized. Before being dunked, I thought I’d come out of that water a changed person. I had this vision that I’d go into the water as Scott, and come out as Scott v.2. Unfortunately, no change occurred. Nothing was different. Time passed. My commitment to Jesus shrunk day by day. This pattern continued until college. It was a rough time in my life, and I remember looking over at my nightstand. There, on top, sat my dusty old Bible that hadn’t been opened in ages. I asking myself that if I died right then and there, would God be satisfied with the life that I lived? I remembered accepting Jesus. I knew my sins were covered. But would my life be honoring to God? My answer was no.

Right then and there I began a journey through God’s word that would change my life forever. I read through what God had done for Israel, what he had done for a people thousands of years ago, and what he could do for me today. While I read through scripture, I began to see the world through God’s point of view. It was during this journey, when I felt God calling me to ministry. I can honestly say that Jesus changed my life, just like he did to Paul, Peter, and the disciples. The good news is that he can change yours too!

 

Peter and the rest of the disciples once were hopeless and fearless. But after being changed by Jesus, they were confident and full of boldness. Paul once was enemy number one of the church. But after being changed by Jesus, Paul became one that would share the Gospel and plant churches. I once was just going through the motions. But after being changed my Jesus, I’m living out the life God intended me to live. Jesus changes lives. Let him change yours. Are you ready to start a relationship with Christ? If so, contact me today. I’d love to pray with you.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Dan Brady)

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“I once was ______ , but now I’m ______ .”

How has your life been changed by Jesus? Comment below!

Flower In Hand

4 (More) “Jesus-Like” Qualities I See In My Wife

Last December, I wrote a blog post titled, 4 “Jesus-Like” Qualities I See In My Wife. In this post, I spent some time talking about how awesome my wife is, and looking at a few “Jesus-like” qualities I’ve seen in her life, and her actions. For those of you that don’t know Amanda, she’s one that doesn’t toot her own horn very often. Amanda is more comfortable working behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. That’s why I think it’s important to show the world how awesome she truly is every once in a while.

Picture Family

It was just a short 6 and a half years years ago when we met. Our local high school homecoming parade was when I first asked Amanda if she’d like to join me for dinner. I asked her 3 times to be exact. To my surprise, I was turned down after all 3 attempts, but I knew that wasn’t the end. A few weeks later we were meeting up for lunch. Several thousand lunches later, we were engaged, and eventually got married last February. While it took me well over 2,000 days to gather up the courage to pop the question, it didn’t take long before realizing that Amanda had several Jesus-like qualities that I wanted in a wife. In my previous post last December, I highlighted 4 of those qualities. The problem is that Amanda doesn’t just have 4.

 

Patience: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” -Psalm 130:5

God calls us to live a life of patience. This world is far from patient. We’re always wanting technology to get faster and faster. We want customer service to wait on us hand and foot, quicker and quicker. Our desire to live life in the fast lane has pushed aside a Jesus-like quality in many of us. In this world, we lack patience. While I often struggle with having patience, Amanda shows me what true patience looks like. She helps me to slow down, take in the moment, and constantly reminds me that we must have patience.

 

Service: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:45

God didn’t put on flesh and live with us in order for us to serve Him. While the creator God should be served by us, this wasn’t His intent. Rather, Jesus served us. He healed the sick, made the blind see and the lame walk, and even washed the disciples feet. While all of this is true service, His ultimate act of service was going to the cross for our sins. Jesus didn’t do it for Himself, but for you and me. Likewise, Amanda has that same heart for service and has dedicated countless hours in order to serve her family, her friends, and her community. She’s modeled the life of service that all believers should live. It’s the same life of service that Jesus had.

 

IMG_0269Commitment: “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” -Proverbs 16:3

Jesus calls us to live lives of commitment. He doesn’t want us to say the right things and then go live our lives however we feel like living them. Jesus doesn’t want us to commit just one day of the week. Instead, Jesus wants us to give of our whole lives. Everything we are, and everything we do should be done for Him. That kind of commitment is the kind of commitment that Amanda models everyday. My wife is always striving to be a more genuine follower of Jesus. She always wants to be better, just as God has called her to be. She’s not only committed to God, but also her family. Her commitment is endless. This is the kind of commitment that we’re all supposed to have toward God.

 

Gentleness: “Remind them…to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” -Titus 3:1-2

If you know anything about Amanda, you’ll know that she doesn’t like confrontation. In fact, she despises it. She’d rather approach these confrontational situations with a spirit of Gentleness. Personally, I don’t know how she does it. No matter how stressful, how complicated, or how worrisome the situation may be, Amanda always has this Godly gentleness about her. We all must have that sort of gentleness in our lives, because it’s the same gentleness that Jesus displayed.

 

These qualities I see in Amanda are constantly pushing me back to Jesus. She lives her life with patience, service, commitment, and gentleness. These are just some of the Jesus-like qualities that I’ve spotted in her life. Amanda is a great example, like many people before her, that life isn’t all about her: it’s about Jesus. 

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Julio Chrisostomo)

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Leave some love for my wife below!

Misuse of Scripture

Verses We Misuse

A few weeks ago, I began teaching a course at church I’ve titled, “Break It Like Jesus”. In this class, we’ve been spending time exploring the Sermon on the Mount. More specifically, we’ve been looking for some of the ritualistic tendencies of the Pharisees that Jesus attempts to foil. Before we begin looking at some of these ritualistic tendencies, let’s first create a working definition for ritualism.

Ritualism: Regular observance of a ritual or tradition without regard to it’s function.

Ritualism is something done without remembering why it’s done. This is what Jesus does in the Sermon on the Mount. He strips things back, and peels back several layers in order to uncover function, and essentially break the ritualistic tendency. After reading through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, one can easily see that there were several things that early Christians and Jews were practicing ritualistically. Unfortunately, we see the same thing today.

Right away, Jesus gets into a discussion on anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and loving your enemies. In these 6 passages (Mt. 5:21-26, 27-30, 31-32, 33-37, 38-42, 43-48) we find that they begin with the same language. Jesus says, “you have heard that it was said,” or, “it was also said.” He points out what they’re interpretation of scripture was in those days, and then corrects there interpretation. Simply put, Jesus points to their ritualistic use of scripture. In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees and religious leaders were using scripture to support their own methods and ideas. They would ritualistically use scripture (or misuse it). We do the same today. Don’t believe me? Here’s a few of the most commonly misused Bible verses of our time…

 

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” -Matthew 7:1

According to the world, we should just sit back and let believers and non-believers do whatever makes them happy. The world tells us that if we judge, if we throw out the sin word, if we point out wrongdoing, we’ll be judged as well. Unfortunately, as Christians we’re not supposed to let brothers and sisters in Christ do whatever makes them happy. Instead, we need to stick together in order to encourage each other in our walk with Christ. We’re called by Jesus to lovingly and respectfully approach fellow believers who are in sin, but we can’t forget about our own.

 

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13

Apparently, according to Paul, if we know Jesus we can score touchdowns, hit a homer, score goals, and the like. While this verse doesn’t say that we can do feats of athletic accomplishments with Christ, it does suggest that we can overcome and persevere through times of tribulation and persecution with Jesus. That’s a promise we should cling to! Unfortunately, that’s not how this particular verse is often portrayed.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Have a bad hair day? Money a bit tight? Don’t worry. Relax! Apparently, according to Jeremiah God is going to prosper or welfare you. NOT! That is, unless you’re exiled Israel wanting to return to the promised land, because that’s who this verse is really for.

 

We could go on all day. There are an innumerable amount of verses that are abused and misused in today’s world. The truth of the Gospel can only be interpreted one way, yet we often bring our own interpretations and opinions into account when reading scripture. It’s time we just let Jesus speak for himself. What are some verses that you’ve seen abused and misused recently?

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Steve Snodgrass)

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Have a misused Bible verse? Share it in the comments below!

Bible Reading

The Two Types of Faith

In his epistle, James writes about persevering through difficult times, wisdom, boasting, wordiness, the tongue, and works. James includes a brief discussion on faith and works, saying, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James tells us that there truly is a difference between just talking the talk, and walking the walk.

In my daily interactions with people, I meet a lot of self proclaimed Christians. Several of these Christ-followers say all the right things, yet when it comes to taking action, there’s a lack of response. They say and know all there is, but when it comes to changing their lifestyle, they’ll have none of it. People like this are knowledgeable about scripture, know of Jesus, but don’t live a life that produces fruit, or action. But I also know that we’re not saved by our works, or our good deeds that we do, but it’s by grace through faith that we’re saved. How does all this line up?

 

Saved by Grace Through Faith

If you read any of my other blogs, I’m sure you’ve heard this before but I’ll say it again: we didn’t deserve to live. Right from the beginning of time, creation has chosen to please our selfish desires over God. We’ve all screwed up, we’ve all sinned. Because of this, we are forced to pay the consequences for our actions. In Genesis 3:19, God introduces the punishment for sin: death. Since we sinned, we have to die physically and also spiritually. That’s where Jesus comes in. He put on flesh and lived the perfect life. He was beaten, tormented, and went to the cross. On the cross, Jesus became sin for us, and died so that we won’t have to. Sure, we’re still going to have to die a physical death, but the worst part (spiritual death) is now taken care of because of the cross. We’re saved, not by the good stuff we do, or the humble actions we take. We’re saved by grace through faith because of the cross.

 

A Price Only Jesus Can Pay

Since we’re saved by grace through faith alone, we can conclude that it’s not about what we do. Many people today, claim that they’re saved because of all the good stuff that they’ve done. But, that’s incorrect. We sinned. Our consequence is so big, that a few good deeds cannot pay the price. Sin separates us from God. It’s the only thing standing in the way. Giving to the needy, caring for the sick and hurting, feeding the hungry, or even attending an occasional church service isn’t going to be enough to erase that sin. Jesus is the only way that price can be paid. Sin was the only thing separating us from God, until Jesus put on flesh. He came to live with us in our sinful state and die for us so that our sins were wiped clean. We can’t give enough, worship long enough, sing loud enough, in order to pay that price on our own. No matter how many lives you change, there’s only one way to fix the problem of sin: Jesus.

 

Genuine Faith Always Leads To Action

James isn’t saying that were saved because of our works. He’s just saying that real faith always leads to action. When we truly have faith that God became flesh, that he lived and died for us, things are going to be different. When we have faith that Jesus went to the cross for us, our lives should be changed. The Gospel, or the good news of Jesus Christ, is a call to action. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus tells us to go make disciples. After we’ve heard the good news and been changed by it, we should in turn go out and share that news with others. When we experience life-changing, genuine faith in Jesus, our lives will be different. They’ll be defined by gospel action.

 

Are you living a life where you simply talk the talk, or are you walking the walk? Maybe you know all there is to know. Maybe you know of Jesus, but do you really know Him? My challenge for you today is to pursue a real faith and be pushed to action.

 

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Thoughts? Leave a comment below!

Delicate

I Love You Mom

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. It’s the one day of the year where mothers everywhere actually receive the recognition they deserve. A mother’s job includes responding to medical injuries, remembering things that the rest of the family forgets, making sure the house is in order, raising up children, and even counseling the family through times of loss, sorrow, and pain. A mother’s job isn’t a part-time job. It’s not full-time either. It’s all the time! Moms are always on call, 24/7. Moms are full of love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace: especially my mom.

Growing up in a family of 4 boys and 3 dogs, my mom was always doing something. She was always making delicious home cooked meals, cleaning up after the mess that we created throughout the house, ready to bandage up the flesh wound that we received after being thrown off a golf-cart, and always right around the corner before we got into something stupid. My mom was everywhere all the time. When we had soccer practice, she was there. When we had to stay late for detention, she was there. She was always doing her best to keep us safe, and raise us up the way she thought best. After reading through and reflecting on a few Biblical examples of mothers, I’ve found that they all remind me of my mom in their own way. Here’s why…

 

Jesus’ Mom

After reading through the passage in Luke 1, when the angel approached Mary about giving birth to a son, we see that Mary was a servant of the Lord. Mary lived a life of service and humility. She understood that it wasn’t going to be about her: but that her son, Jesus, meant everything. Mary was willing to do just about anything to ensure that Jesus would live up to the life that God had called him to live. She was ready to do anything and everything for God. Her life defined what it meant to be a servant. My mom shared this servants heart. She was always ready to serve God, and her family. Looking back, I cannot believe the things that my mom put up with. With 4 boys and 3 dogs, our house was crazy! Yet, instead of losing her temper and screaming (like I would have done!) she showed us love, encouragement, and she dedicated her life to serving our family. After reading through the early pages of Luke, and reflecting on the service that Mary showed to God, I’m reminded of the service that my mom has dedicated to our family.

 

Moses’ Mom

Moses wasn’t born in the best of times. Israel was under slavery in Egypt, and due to their rising numbers and strength, Pharaoh had all newborn Israelite boys sent away to certain death. Moses’ mom however had different plans. She hid her baby for about 3 months after he was born. Then when she simply couldn’t hide him any longer, she made a basket and sent her son down the river in order to protect him. Moses ended up in the hands of Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses’ mom was willing to give away her son to an entirely different type of people, in order to protect his life. In a weird sort of way, I can almost relate to this story. My family didn’t suffer years of slavery in Egypt. My mom wasn’t forced to send off her 4 sons. But there was a time where my mom faced a tough situation.

About 4 years ago, my parents decided to move out to Southern California, some 1,900 miles away from home. I had made the tough decision of staying back home, in Michigan. My mom let me make my own decision, without giving me grief, showing her sorrow, or letting me know in any way that I had let her down. It was probably one of the hardest things she had ever done, but she did it because it was best for me. Just like Moses’ mom and the situation my mom faced, a mom has to do what’s best for her children, regardless of whether she likes it or not.

 

Ruth’s Mom-In-Law

Naomi wasn’t Ruth’s mother, but her mother-in-law. The relationship between Naomi and Ruth is one where we can learn about the Biblical expectations for in-law relationships. Naomi had just lost her husband and her two sons. She was left with the two wives of her sons. After telling both of them to return to their hometown, one of them decided to stay with Naomi. Ruth made the decision to stay with the true family that she had: Naomi. Ruth said to Naomi, “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth gave full commitment to her mother Naomi, and Naomi did the same. When it comes to in-law relationships, the world has a definition. In-laws are supposed to be those crazy people that you’re forced to see on holidays. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for Ruth and Naomi and it shouldn’t be the case for us today.

My wife and I have been blessed with two out-of-this-world mothers. They both reflect the Biblical examples of what a mother should be like. They serve unconditionally, and they do the best for their children regardless of what it means for them. Above all, they both accept their new in-law like their own. They both have brought us in just as if we were their own son or daughter. Our moms have lived out that Naomi-Ruth relationship.

 

Sunday is Mother’s Day. I have two of the worlds greatest moms anyone could ask for! Time to leave some love for your mom this mothers day. Leave a comment below with what you love most about your mom.

 

I love you mom!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Basheer Tome)

Walk on Water

Walking On Water

A good friend of mine approached me yesterday and reminded me of the story of when Jesus walked on water. It’s such a great story! Jesus had just fed 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. He figures it’s time for some alone time, so Jesus sends his disciples in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. Just a quick note on this sea. It’s not your typical backyard pond. It’s huge! It is about 13 miles long and 8 miles across, and the waters can get rough sometimes. The disciples begin their quest to cross the sea, but Jesus stays back to pray.

Sometime later, Jesus decides to rejoin the disciples. But there’s a problem. The boat is far out at Sea. Jesus is nowhere close to the boat. For Jesus, the solution is simple: walk on water. Once he approached the boat, the disciples were stricken with fear. They thought he was a ghost! Peter, being the most outgoing disciple there was, asked Jesus to call him out on the water. Jesus does just that, and Peter walks on water with Jesus. After reading through the story, and reflecting on this passage last night, I’ve found two things we can take away from the story that I wanted to share with you today.

 

When God Calls, Listen.

Jesus called out to Peter. He told him to come to Jesus on the water. Peter did just that. After hearing God’s call, Peter acted. How many of us have heard God’s call, but haven’t acted? Maybe you know that you’ve been given the gifts in order to work with children? Maybe you’ve been called to join a small group? Maybe you’ve been called to help the less fortunate? Maybe you’re doubting God’s push on your life to begin a relationship with him? God calls us for several different reasons. Personally, God has called me into ministry. God doesn’t do that for everyone, but he does call everyone into something. What is God calling you for? Have you listened?

 

When God Calls, Don’t Doubt It.

Jesus called out to Peter, and Peter walked out on the water toward Jesus. He was doing fine, until he began to see the wind and the waves. Peter doubted God’s call. How many of us have heard God’s call on our lives, but ended up doubting. May you’re saying, I’m not good enough to do that for God? Or maybe you’re trying to tell yourself that, you’re not gifted enough to act out on God’s calling? God doesn’t call you into ministry to be the next Billy Graham. He doesn’t call you to become a surgeon in order to be the surgeon general. He won’t call you into teaching in order to be the greatest teacher in history. He calls you, so stay you! Never doubt God’s call on your life. Hear it, and do it!

 

Are you struggling with finding God’s call on your life? Maybe your wrestling with the idea of being called to have a relationship with God? I’d love to talk with you. Simply connect with me.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: the_tahoe_guy)

 

 

Chill Pill

Take A Chill Pill

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He goes on to tell his followers to invest in heavenly treasure instead of the treasure of the world. Included in this famous sermon is a portion of discussion on anxiety & worry, where Jesus calls his followers to live different than the world. As the world tells us that we should worry about tomorrow and always be anxious about providing health, fortune, and freedom, Jesus tells us the exact opposite. He says that we should simply place our trust in God.

Anxiety and worry is something that plague our world. Life is stressful. Bills have to be paid, salaries must be made, and all while our dependency on God fades. But we’re told to live different. Jesus says that we shouldn’t worry, and we should be anxiety free. Today, I wanted to share why it’s important that we remember to take a chill pill.

 

We’re Of More Value

The beautiful thing about living in a small town in Mid-Michigan is that there are plenty of animals. Whether it’s deer walking in the backyard, or geese flying overhead, there are animals everywhere. All of these animals are a great reminder of how God takes care of us. The deer don’t go around wasting time worrying about tomorrow, because God takes care of them. Jesus tells the crowd that gathers that the animals don’t have to worry, but we shouldn’t have to worry either. We’re of way more value than they are. We were made in the image of God. We are special. If God takes care of the animals how much more than does God take care of us!

 

God’s Proven He Has Our Best In Mind

We shouldn’t worry. We shouldn’t be anxious. Instead we should place our trust in God and have faith in Him. God has already proven that He has our best intentions in mind. The proof is shaped like a cross. Because of our sinful lives, there was a price that had to be paid. Jesus put on flesh and paid our price in full on the cross. He died so that we could live. He had our best intentions in mind then, and He does now. Don’t worry. Trust in God.

 

Worrying is a way of life, but it shouldn’t be. God takes care of the animals. We’re made in the image of God. We’re special. He can take care of us too. He’s proven that he already has. The proof is shaped like a cross. Whenever your stricken with worry or anxiety this week, just remember the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for you! Don’t worry, just trust in God.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Alon)

Fish

Live Deep

I know several people that will tell you that they know Jesus. They talk the talk and say all the right things. The problem is that when it comes to waking the walk, they walk a completely different walk than the one that Jesus has called us to. These people are surface level in their relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, we’re not supposed to be just surface level. For the past several weeks, we’ve been going through a series titled Deep in Christ at Hillside, where we’ve been looking at Romans 12. This week was a little different.

Sunday, I had the honor of filling the pulpit. We took a break of sorts from our Deep in Christ series, and we spent the day looking at an Old Testament character that lived deep. Noah wasn’t a surface level guy. The flood account in Genesis 6-8 tells us that Noah was different from the rest of the world. Noah’s example helps us to understand how exactly we might live deep. Let’s review how we can do just that.

 

Be Deep in Character

Noah found favor with God. He was righteous, blameless, and walked with God before the events of the flood took place. Noah had a deep relationship with God because he was deep in character. Have you found favor with God? Do you live a righteous, blameless, walk with God sort of life? Noah had faith in God. He put complete trust in Him. We need to trust God that He’s got our best intentions in mind. He already has proven that he does. The proof is shaped like a cross.

 

Go Deep in Calling

Character wasn’t the only thing that Noah had, he also found God’s calling. Just believing isn’t good enough. James tells us that faith without action is dead. Instead, Genuine faith always produces action. Because of Noah’s deep character, he was pushed to live a life of deep calling. He built the ark, the animals were assembled, he brought the food, he went aboard with his family. Noah did all that God asked of him. Are you living the life God has called you to live? Are you living a life of prayer? Are you in God’s word? Are you different from the world? Do you share the Gospel?

 

Live a Deep Life of Commitment

When the flood waters were washed away, and the ark finally came to rest on dry land, the first thing that Noah did was build an altar and offer burnt offerings to God. Noah saw all that God had done and he was pushed to worship after the storm had passed. Noah was committed to living a life of worship all the time. We should do the same. When things are going good: worship. When you’re healthy: worship. When you’re surrounded by family and friends: worship. But life’s not all good times. We must be committed to living a life of worship in the good and the bad. Are you sick, dying, alone, hurting, depressed, or angry? Time to worship.

 

Noah lived deep. He had deep character, deep calling, and deep commitment. What kind of life are you living? A surface level sort of life, or are you deep? Go deep this week!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Matthias Hiltner)

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Thoughts? Comment below!