Love

Fight Sin with Love

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)

Hockey

Hockey Players & Jesus Followers

As I was listening to the sermon this Sunday, all I could think of was hockey. In Romans 12, Paul spends a great deal of time explaining what it really means to be a genuine follower of Jesus. Right away, Paul addresses that, as Christians, we should be apart from the world, living a life of worship. Our lives should be living sacrifices for God. Everything we are, and everything we do should be done for Him as an act of worship.

As I sat listening to this sermon and as the congregation was being challenged to go “deep in Christ”, all I could think of were hockey players. Let’s face it: hockey’s a tough sport. You cannot be afraid to get hit by the puck, and the puck is no laughing matter. It’s a frozen chunk of solid rubber that’s traveling roughly 100 miles an hour. To make matters worse, the few seconds you do end up with the puck, you become target number one.

Hockey players aren’t small dudes. When you do have the puck, they’re going to do whatever it takes to separate you from it. You’re either going to end up sandwiched between a player and the boards, or you’re going to be hit so hard you won’t know what planet you’re on. Hockey players define what it means to be a living sacrifice. But what does Jesus mean when he tells his followers to be living sacrifices?

 

Being a living sacrifice means living your best.

Hockey players are always shifting from the bench, to the ice, and back to the bench. The average time a hockey player spends on the ice is less than a minute at a time. But the time they do spend playing, is a time when they give it their all. Being a living sacrifice for Jesus means living our best all the time. We can’t let our guard down. We have to be at the top of our game. That’s what it means to be a living sacrifice.

 

Being a living sacrifice means worship.

A life of sacrifice has purpose. Hockey players aren’t sacrificing their time, their health, and their teeth for nothing. There’s purpose behind their sacrifices. When it comes to being a living sacrifice for Jesus, there’s purpose behind that too, and that purpose is worship. If we live our lives sacrificially, we are living lives of worship. Worship shouldn’t be something we do for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. It’s not something we do while we’re listening to our favorite worship album in the car. Worship should be done all day, every day by the lives we live.

 

Being a living sacrifice for Jesus is kind of similar to playing hockey. You put your best foot forward, and you do it purposefully. Jesus was a living sacrifice for us. The least we can do is be a living sacrifice for Him! Go deep in Christ this week. Be a living sacrifice. Don’t forget to cheer for your favorite hockey team this playoff season, and  leave a comment below about how you have been living a life of worship this week.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Just a Prairie Boy)

Light

Let Your Light Shine

So, maybe you’ve heard of the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus walks up a mountainside, sits down, and after a crowd gathers he begins to teach. Jesus instructs his disciples and the crowd about many things. But there’s a little passage at the beginning of his famous sermon, that I’m interested in today.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus calls us the light of the world. He told the crowd, the disciples, and even his followers today that we must go out into the world and spread the light. But what does this mean exactly? How can we let our light shine in this dark world? Here’s a couple of ways…

 

Living as the light means living a Jesus-honoring life.

When we sin we don’t want others to see. We often disobey God in the shadows of life, intending to hide it from the world and even God. In the light however, we tend to put our best foot forward. What if your life were in the light all the time? Light exposes darkness, it exposes sin. That’s how Jesus wants us to live. He wants us to live lives that would glorify our Father, free from darkness and sin. Turn from what is evil, and cling to what is good. Live a life of light.

 

Living as the light means living a life of action.

Living as the light not only means living a Jesus-honoring life, but also living a life of action. Jesus says that when we live as the light, people will see our good works and give glory to God. Our good works are not done just because they’re fun. We don’t do good works to show people how good we are. We live a life of action for a purpose: to push people toward Jesus. The life that Jesus called us to live is a life of light and action. Go out and be the light.

 

This week, be the light. Live a life that honors God, and a life of action. Be purposeful this week in your interactions with others. Go out and spread the light. As always, don’t forget to comment below about your experience as the light.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: mccun934)

Garge Sale

How to Garage Sale Like a Pro

It’s the weekend. That means it’s time for another blog post that’s short, quick, and fun! It’s also spring, and spring means garage sales. My wife is the ultimate garage sale-er. She always comes across those hidden gems that everyone is searching for. You want to garage sale like my wife does? You want to garage sale like a pro? Here are 5 tips to help you do just that.

 

TIP #1: Go early. Go often.

The old saying is true. The early bird does get the worm. You want access to the best items garage sales have to offer? Be the first one there every morning. It also doesn’t hurt to get an early start this garage sale season.

 

TIP #2: Know what piles are worth digging through.

If there’s junk on the top, chances are there’s more junk on the bottom. Something catch your eye in another pile? That one might just be worth digging through. Personally, I look for piles with tools, books, or even sporting goods items. What do you look for?

 

TIP #3: Be a bundle king.

Ever heard of the whole “make me an offer” routine? Are you the garage-sale-negotiator type? The bottom line is sellers don’t bite at every offer. If your offer isn’t speaking to the seller, bundle that sale with something else. The bundle almost always pays off.

 

TIP #4: Park with caution.

We’ve all been there. After hours of finding nothing, you finally come across a sale that looks promising. After purchasing a few things that just might be worth while, you find that your car is blocked in by other fellow garage sale patrons. It takes 10 minutes before the driver behind you will finally let you leave. That’s 10 precious garage sale minutes lost. Lesson learned.

 

TIP #5: Get to know everybody.

Let’s face it, one of the best parts of garage sales is hearing the stories of the people doing the selling. It’s an amazing world out there. Take a minute and talk to the people hosting the sale. Hear their stories. Who knows, you might just get a discount.

 

Go out there and put this professional advice to good use this garage sale season. Don’t forget to leave a comment below with your best garage sale find, and be sure to give us your email address for daily post updates (bottom of site).

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Accretion Disc)

Fearless

Fearless

This week’s first post was on a passage I read in John 20:19-23. It was the first time Jesus showed himself to his disciples following the resurrection. Before this passage, the disciples witnessed a bloody crucifixion. Jesus had met with his disciples, washed their feet, and led them in the Lord’s Supper. He took them to the garden to pray, and they saw Jesus being carried off by the guards. The disciples witnessed the illegal trials where Jesus was falsely accused. They watched as Roman Governor Pilate called for Jesus to be crucified.

His disciples were there, watching Jesus carry his cross to the place of the skull. They watched the nails being driven. They saw Jesus hanging on the cross. After breathing his last, Jesus’ disciples prepared his body for burial and laid him to rest in a sealed and guarded tomb. They saw the brutality that the Jews and the Romans took out on Jesus, and they figured that they’d be next. The disciples were afraid, and were hiding behind locked doors.

We too experience fear. Fear is a natural part of life. Some people are afraid more than others. At one point or another, everyone is afraid. The Bible speaks a lot about fear. Here’s a few things to keep in mind the next time you’re afraid.

 

There’s only one thing we really need to fear.

All throughout scripture we’re told that there’s really only one thing we need to fear: God. He’s the creator of the universe. He’s the one that breathed life into us. We shouldn’t fear things of this earth. There’s no need for us to be afraid of spiders, public speaking, or clowns. We shouldn’t be afraid of being alone in the dark, creepy basements, or making the wrong decision. God should be the only one we fear. But the fear we should have for God isn’t the fear we generally think of. When we were younger, and we did something wrong, our fathers would correct us. Some fathers are more forgiving and some fathers…aren’t. Either way, a child has a healthy dose of love, respect, and fear for their father. It should be the same with our Heavenly Father. We need to fear God, in order to develop a good relationship with him.

 

When we trust in God, we can be fearless.

When we place our trust and have faith in God, we can be fearless. There’s no reason to be afraid of not succeeding, because God’s with you. We shouldn’t be afraid of the neighbors next door, because God won’t give you anything he knows you can’t handle. Being afraid of sharks is unnecessary, because they’re just a part of the beauty of God’s creation. God is the one in control. He’s the one calling the shots. Instead of being afraid, God tells us that we’re supposed to be full of self-control, love, and power. Trust him. Have faith that he’ll help you through it, whatever it is, that’s causing you to be afraid. Don’t let your fear get the best of you. Be fearless!

 

The disciples were experiencing genuine fear in the days following Christ’s crucifixion. Jesus found them in their fear, and gave them a reason to be fearless. He died on the cross for our sins, and paid our price. By defeating death, and overcoming the power of sin, Jesus proved the he can get you through any fear. What are you afraid of? Comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to get daily posts sent directly to your email! (See bottom of site)

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Vox Efx)

Selfie

I Took A Church Selfie

If you don’t know what a selfie is, I’m not sure where you’ve been the last 10 years. Probably under a rock somewhere in some far-off corner of the globe. In the slightest chance you haven’t heard of them, they’re pretty simple. You hold your phone up, aim it at your gorgeous face and say cheese! Estimates have shown that there are over 1 million selfies taken every day. That’s a lot of selfies.

Selfie1

Something as simple and as fun as a selfie can be a useful teaching tool. For example, to a lot of people’s surprise, I actually used the idea of a selfie in my previous sermon last Sunday. I told everyone to take out their phones and take one during service. I even took one myself while I was preaching. For all you doubters, I’ve even included proof in this post. The selfies were snapping on Sunday. Here’s why…

 

A snapshot of your life.

When we take a selfie we’re taking a snapshot of our lives. It’s something to remember a moment with. It’s a way to highlight a time or season. But it’s even more than that. A selfie is a snapshot of you. That one picture, in a way, captures who you are as a person. It’s a snapshot of our life that we show the world. The real question is what are you showing? What do people see when they see your selfie?

 

Selfie2What do people see when they see your selfie?

When the world sees your selfie, what do they see? I’m sure they see the best of the best, because it’s not very often you find someone snapping a selfie during the rougher times in life. Similarly, what do people see when they look at your social media presence as a whole? Are you giving an honest picture, or are you just highlighting the best of the best? When taking a selfie, how do you want people to see you? What do you want people to see when they look at that selfie? What’s important to you?

 

In your selfie, do people see Jesus?

Today, people will claim to see Jesus in weird places. Don’t be confused. I don’t mean that we should literally look for Jesus in selfies like they’re some sort of Where’s Waldo? book. People should see Jesus in your selfies in a different way though. Like I said in a prior post, we’re all called to be witnesses for Jesus. Moments before ascending into heaven, Jesus left us with a command to be his witnesses to the world. He told us to go out and share the gospel in order to make disciples. We’re called to represent Jesus to the world. The question is: are you? In your selfie, or your life snapshot, do people see someone that’s living for Jesus, or do they see someone that’s living for themselves? What do they see in your selfie?

 

This week, I have a challenge for each one of you. Go out and be witnesses for Christ like we’ve been called to be. Let this calling define who you are this week. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take a selfie to leave in the comments below.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: *Passenger*)

Abortion

54 Million

This week, I came across a statistic that shocked me. Since 1973, over 54 million abortions have been performed in the United States alone. Let me give some perspective to the size of this problem. WWII, one of the bloodiest conflicts the world has ever seen, was the cause of just over 405k American casualties. In 2014, Spain’s population totaled 47 million. Over the course of 38 years, over 54 million abortions took place.

Like many other issues that are highly debated in today’s world, the topic of abortion is constantly in the spotlight. The legality and practice of abortions vary state to state, but overall, in the United States abortion is legal and widely accepted. Surprisingly, even among Christians, abortion is an acceptable option during pregnancy. Unfortunately, in my take on scripture, I’ve yet to find evidence in support of a practice such as abortion. In fact, Jesus would even go so far as to say that abortion is murder, and that life begins at conception.

Like my previous post in reference to the gay marriage debate, this simple blog post isn’t going to change the way we think about abortions. I don’t intend to give a solution to this epidemic. However, I do intend to give a few reminders to help guide the Christian response to the issue. The following are a few reminders we should keep in mind when approaching the topic of abortion.

 

Aborting a life is one sin among many.

In Jeremiah 1:5 we see God tell Jeremiah that he was known by God before being formed in the womb. God told Jeremiah that he was set apart as a prophet before birth. It’s passages like this that push me to the biblical viewpoint that life begins at conception, and we all know that taking an innocent life, or murder, is clearly labeled as sin. But with that being said, we shouldn’t be so quick to cast the first stone. Sure, abortion is sin, but so is lying, stealing, cheating, sexual immorality, etc. The fact is we’ve all fallen short. We’ve all, at one point or another, chose to gratify the sinful desires of the flesh instead of honor God. Keep that in mind as you approach the topic of abortion.

 

God doesn’t advocate or support sin, nor should we.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again: God doesn’t advocate or support sin. We shouldn’t either. For God to be God, he can’t be pro-sin. In the beginning, immediately following creation, Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the Garden of Eden. They couldn’t enjoy the fellowship with God in the garden that they once enjoyed because of their sins. In other words, sin got in the way of mankind and God, because God can’t be attached to it. In no way does God support sin. We shouldn’t either. Something else to keep in mind when we approach the abortion issue.

 

In his defeat of death and sin, Jesus proved he can bring new life.

Because we sinned, Jesus had to die. Blood had to be shed. The price had to be paid. Jesus willingly paid our price on the cross. He bled, and he breathed his last, for you. Then Easter happened. Jesus didn’t stay dead. In his defeat of death and sin, Jesus proved to us that we can have new life through him. Maybe you’ve done something in your past that you just cannot let go. Maybe you lived a life so dark that it haunts you to this day. Jesus can take care of it. The price has already been paid. Your slate has been wiped clean. With Jesus you too, can overcome the power and grasp of sin. Jesus offers hope, healing, and new life. With millions of women going through with an abortion last year alone, this message of restoration is one that we shouldn’t forget when we approach the abortion discussion.

 

If you’re wrestling with the decision of going through with an abortion, or maybe you’ve had an abortion in the past and are looking for Jesus to offer a way out, I’d encourage you to connect with me. I’d love to talk with you and point you to the many priceless resources our world has to offer. As always, don’t forget to leave a comment below.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Transformer18)

Called by Jesus

Called By Jesus

This past Sunday, I finished up the sermon series I was preaching through titled, “3 Words“. We explored the crucifixion, the resurrection, and finally the ascension of Jesus. In each sermon, we spent time looking at three simple words that changed the world. On Good Friday, we remembered how Jesus said, “It is finished”, as he was breathing his last breaths on the cross. For Easter Sunday, we celebrated the resurrection and how the angels proclaimed, “He has risen!”

In Acts 1:6-9 we see a similar three words. Minutes prior to ascending into heaven, Jesus gives his disciples a final charge. He tells them, and all his followers everywhere, to go out and be witnesses for him. Just like those disciples, we too are called by Jesus. Let’s take a look at exactly how we are called when Jesus said, “be my witnesses”.

 

Jesus called us to live witness lives.

Remember the old saying, actions speak louder than words? Part of being a witness for Jesus means living a witness life. In other words, Jesus called us to action. Jesus modeled a life of unconditional love, a life of service, and sacrifice. He put our own needs before his own. We should model our own lives after his. Our relationships need to be God-honoring. Everything we are and everything we do, must glorify God. Jesus has called us to live apart from the world. He’s called us to a higher standard. We’re called to live witness lives.

 

Jesus called us to speak witness words.

Jesus not only called us to walk the walk, but also to talk the talk. In order to effectively witness, words are needed. As Jesus said in the Great Commission, we must go out and share the gospel! But that’s not it. We also need to share our testimony. Share with people how you’re life is different because you know Jesus. Compare you’re life before you knew Christ, to the life you now live. Personally, I know that Jesus changed my life. I also know that he can change yours too, if you’ll let him. Share Jesus by sharing the gospel and sharing your testimony. Your story might be just what people need.

 

Jesus called us to have witness faith.

Before being an effective witness, we must first have faith. Today we throw around the phrase, blind faith. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s what the disciples, and the church leaders around the time of Jesus had. They had certain, sure faith. Their faith was based on evidence. God has given every reason to have faith in him. Take the resurrection for example. As crazy as it sounds, believing Jesus beat death makes the most of sense. The disciples and first witnesses had real faith. We need that same faith in order to effectively act out on our calling.

 

As much as you don’t like to hear it, you have a calling. You were called by Jesus to be his witnesses. This means living a witness life, speaking witness words, and having witness faith. How have you acted out on your calling this week? Comment below!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Willy D)

Locked Door

Locked Doors

Recently, I read a passage found in John 20:19-23. It was evening on the first Easter Sunday. The stone had been rolled away, and the angels had told the Mary’s, “He has risen“. Unaware of what had happened at the tomb that morning, the disciples had locked themselves in a room in fear that the Jews would come for the disciples next.

Christ’s disciples just saw what had happened to Jesus. They saw him die. Some of them even helped to prepare Jesus’ body and lay him to rest. They witnessed the stone being rolled to seal up the grave. They saw it all go down. It was over. What the promised Messiah was supposed to bring to Israel, a physical Kingdom on earth, was now lost. Jesus was dead, and the disciples figured they were next.

The doors were locked, but according to the passage, Jesus just showed up. Today, let’s take a look at that locked door passage and learn a couple things about Jesus.

 

Nothing stands in the way of Jesus.

As much as you think it is, your sin isn’t too big, and your past isn’t too dark for Jesus. No matter what you’ve done with your life, you haven’t screwed up enough to the point where Jesus cannot come into your life. The price for our sins has already been paid, and it was paid in full. Jesus died on the cross that was for us. We were the ones with the death sentence. He simply took on death and sin so that we wouldn’t have to. We’re good now. Our slate of wrongdoings has been wiped clean. It’s now ‘white-as-snow’. No matter what you’ve done, or how bad you think you’ve lived your life, stop lying to yourself: nothing stands in the way of Jesus.

 

Jesus meets us where we are.

In the first time Jesus meets with his disciples after his resurrection, Jesus didn’t go to the door, knock, and wait for them to come to him. He didn’t come to the edge of the house and call out for them. He didn’t come to the edge and wait for them to find him. He came and met them where they were. Jesus does that with us today as well. He meets us where we are. I’m not taking about simply your physical location but everything else too. Not only can Jesus find us at any address, but he can go where no other doctor can go. He can love when nobody else can love. He can counsel where no other counselor can. He can meet you, wherever you are, and whatever your situation may be.

 

Maybe you think that your past is too dark, too sinful for Jesus to come into your life? Maybe you’re in a painful situation or a time in your life that you simply need help. Nothing stands in his way. Jesus can meet us where we are. All we must do is start that relationship with him. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to read the gospel message in full. See what God has done for us, and how you can start that relationship today. As always, don’t forget to leave a comment below about how Jesus met you where you were.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: bulletsoul23)

Twitter Tweets

These Are a Few of My Favorite Tweets

Here are my favorite tweets from the past few weeks.

 

 #1: Noah Filipiak (Founding Pastor of Crossroads Church in Lansing, MI)

 

 #2: Courtesy of one very funny Star Wars parody account.

 

 

 #3: Adam Powell (Student Pastor and Photographer)

 

 

 #4: The Twitter account that every pastor and church leader should follow.

 

 

 #5: Matt Brown (Author of Awakening and founder of Think Eternity)

 

#6: That Star Wars account again.

 

 

Which one tops your list? Let me know in the comments below.   (Photo by Flickr User: shawncampbell)