Wake Up on Kindle

My Book Wake Up Is Set For Release

It’s finally here! Today is the day. I’m excited to officially announce the release of my new book Wake Up. This book is something I’ve been working on for several years. What started as a conviction and burden has turned into something that has already made an impact in the lives of several Christian leaders.

 

What Is Wake Up About?

I wasn’t always living my life for Jesus. God had to shake some things up in my life to finally get my attention. After being called into ministry and falling in love with Jesus again, I began asking tough question. Questions like: What does a Christ-centered church look like? What does a genuine follower of Jesus look like?

It didn’t take me long to discover that the church is broken. Sin is rampant, even acceptable, in churches around the globe. Christians haven’t acted on the Great Commission. False gospels are entangling well-meaning believers. As time passes by, we are growing more biblically illiterate. We’ve lost the love of Jesus that we once had. In Revelation 3:2, Jesus says, “Wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die…” It’s time to light the spiritual flame that was once there.

Wake Up is meant to push Christians and church leaders to give an honest assessment of our spiritual lives, and challenge us to go deeper for Christ through renewal.

 

Ending the Drift From the Heart of God.

It’s time we take Christ’s words seriously. It’s time we Wake Up. Will you join me on this journey to renew the church and end the drift from the heart of God? I can’t do it without your help.

Wake Up is now available for pre-order, and is set for official release on March 22nd. Be sure to pre-order your copy and tell all your friends and family to do the same! Once you read the book, don’t forget to leave a rating on Amazon.

The time to act is now.

Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

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Overpriced-Coffee2

Ditch the Overpriced Coffee

You don’t have to search far and wide to find a hypocritical Christian. You know, the kind of Christ-follower that says one thing and does another. In Revelation 3:1-6, we’re introduced to a local church that’s going through a similar problem. The church in Sardis had this reputation of being a great church. Things were happening. I’m sure they had a dynamic youth program, a creative team with an eye for design, solid worship, and maybe even challenging Biblical preaching. This church was the place to be. It was, after all, the church to belong to. They had a reputation of being alive! After imagining this church, I bet it sounds appealing and almost makes you want to give it a shot this Sunday. Unfortunately, this church had a big problem: they were hypocrites.

A hypocrite is someone who says something and does another, and like I said before, there are plenty of Christian hypocrites out there. This church in Sardis was called out by Jesus on their hypocrisy. Sure they had a reputation, but they were far from where they should be. They were told to wake up before it was too late. Christians in Sardis were told to return to the genuine faith that they had at first. That letter in Revelation was a desperate warning to save this dying church. History isn’t entirely sure whether that church listened to Christ’s call or not, but we do know that today’s church is right back in that same problem of hypocrisy.

 

Sardis wasn’t the only one.

The church in Sardis dealt with the problem of hypocrisy, but they weren’t the only ones that had to deal with, or are dealing with this problem. Today, there are hypocritical Christians everywhere. You know, the kind of Christians that say all the things they need to say, but the life they live is far from the example of Christ. Maybe you know some of them? They look the part, they dress the part, but they are far from a genuine faith walk.

Hypocritical Christians jam out to their favorite trendy worship albums in the car. Hypocritical Christians have letters from their sponsored children at home on the fridge. Hypocritical Christians even post inspiring Christian messages all over social media. They’ll watch Christian television, read the latest and greatest Christian book, and even put scripture decor all over their homes. These hypocrite posers will often read scripture, while enjoying an overpriced coffee. Hypocritical Christians will pray for you, they give to the church, and even serve among the leadership. Yet, hypocritical Christians live a life defined, not by Jesus, but by sin.

 

Stop pointing fingers.

Today, we’re a bunch of hypocrites. Like my friend, Jarrid Wilson, says: we need to break free from poser Christianity! It’s easy to sit here and point fingers. Look, there’s a poser over there! Don’t go to that church, they’re a bunch of hypocrites! Those people say they do good, but they are far from good! Yet, I never thought of myself as the problem. Even while I was sitting down to type these thoughts, I was convicted.

It’s easy to read through the passage in Revelation 3, and shake our heads at the hypocritical nature of the church in Sardis. It’s even easy to point to other Christians that are doing the same thing. But, the last thing I want to think about is the fact that the majority of us are living a life of reputation instead of living out a genuine walk with Jesus. We can sit here and point fingers, but we fail to point out the worst hypocrites of all: YOU & ME!

 

I’m here today to tell you that I am a hypocrite. I’ve been talking a good talk, but I’ve failed to truly walk the way God called me to live. I’ve been living for my reputation, instead of living for Jesus. But, I’m ready to change. Will you join me on this journey? Are you ready to stop pretending and start living? Ditch that overpriced coffee and just be real.

 

*This message has been adapted from Scott’s November 29th sermon Mismatched.
(Photo by Flickr user: Basheer Tome)

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Star Wars

The Reality of Star Wars

It’s mid-December. The Christmas bells are ringing. Lights are being put up. Store shelves are quickly diminishing. Families are getting together. But people aren’t talking about Santa anymore. It’s not the cookies, toys, or the elves that have stolen the spotlight: it’s Star Wars. The 7th installment of the world-famous saga is just days away from opening night, and it’s already breaking records. Ticket sales are through the roof. Don’t worry, I have a few tickets of my own! For some time now, even I have been embracing the hype. From leaked soundtrack titles, to Hollywood premiere pictures and tweets, I’ve been enjoying the bits of Star Wars: The Force Awakens the world has to offer.

Star Wars 2Star Wars brings me back to my childhood. I can remember the days when my dad introduced us to the original films, or the countless hours my brothers and I spent playing with our character action figures. We were even there opening night for each and every one of the prequel trilogy. I grew up on Star Wars, and it was good. Whenever I’d watch the movies and read those opening words fly across the screen, “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away“, it was as if I’d somehow entered into an entirely different world. But what if this universe wasn’t as far as we thought?

 

There’s a real battle between “good” and “evil”.

In the Star Wars universe, there’s a constant battle between good and evil. Force users are turned to the dark side and seek power in order to advance only themselves. On the other side, there are the Jedi that use the force for good and not evil. The Jedi seek to destroy the Sith, and the Sith wish to eliminate all Jedi. While this battle between good and evil happened a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, this battle sounds a little closer to home than we had previously imagined. In the opening pages of the Bible, God created everything and it was good. This creation was good, right up until Adam & Eve took something that was off limits. That’s where Satan entered the scene. This battle didn’t stop there. We see this battle occur in the lives of people, at a cross in Jerusalem, in an empty tomb, and even during the end of days. Satan will stop at nothing to see God’s plans and His people destroyed. The battle is real.

 

Many people miss the opportunity to be connected with God.

Growing up, there were countless times that I had wished I was a Jedi. It didn’t matter if I was merely a padawan, or a Jedi Master, I just wanted the ability to use the force. Unfortunately, for those Jedi-wannabe’s out there, the force is nothing more than science fiction. There’s no all-powerful force in control of the universe. There is however, a personal God, who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present, who actually wants a relationship with each and every one of us. That’s why He put on flesh, and went to the cross. On the cross, Jesus paid in full the debt we owed. This same God wants a relationship with you and me. He wants to connect with you, He wants to care for you, He wants to be by your side no matter where you’re at in life. In the Star Wars universe, many miss their chance at becoming Jedi. The same is true in our universe. Many people miss the opportunity to be connected with God. It doesn’t cost anything. He just wants a relationship.

 

God’s given everyone a greater purpose & identity.

One of the famous lines I’ve heard replayed countless times from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer is when Finn says, “But, I’ve got nothing to fight for.” It seems as if he’s lost his purpose and identity in life. Unfortunately, this is true for a lot of us in this galaxy. We walk around pretending we’re something that we’re not. Or we live a lie. Maybe we live as someone we so desperately want to be, only to fail in doing so. Countless people have questioned their purpose in life. But there’s no greater question than this: Who are you?  (For those of you that have watched the trailers a hundred times, do you get the reference?) Are you living for yourself, or are you living for something/someone greater? Jesus went to the cross to pay your price, He died the death we deserved, and then He was risen from the grave. This is a purpose I can get behind. The cause of Christ is one I don’t mind joining, something I can fight for, because He fought for me.

 

That fictional universe that existed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is one I remember traveling to as a kid. Now, years later, I (along with millions more) are looking forward to seeing the 7th installment in just a few days. This world of Star Wars is a world in constant battle. It’s a place where people miss out on opportunity, and continue to seek out their purpose and identity. It’s a world that doesn’t sound so far, far away after all.

 

(Photo credit: Star Wars Battlefront commercial)

Conflict

When Conflict Happens

When was the list time you experienced conflict? In today’s world, it doesn’t take long before we are confronted with tension. Turn on the television and listen to some news headlines. Politicians throw punches with words. Countries send messages with tanks and fighter jets. People enact revenge for the dumbest of reasons. Conflict even occurs in our relationships with those around us. A little argument can threaten to destroy friendships or even families. Conflict is everywhere and it’s out of control. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas have one of these times of tension in their relationship.

In it’s infancy, the church had people for all sorts of backgrounds. There were some Pharisees (group of people who studied the Jewish religious law) who joined the church. This group thought that in order to be saved, you had to first follow the Jewish religious law before following Jesus. They were teaching that you had to “be circumcised” in order to be saved. Because of this false teaching, the council met in Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas were there in order to inform the council of what great things were done through the Gentiles (these people didn’t attempt to follow the Jewish religious law). Upon leaving, Paul & Barnabas decided to head back out on another missionary journey, but they were in disagreement whether to take Mark along with them.

Let’s take a look at a few things we can learn from this conflict between these two spiritual giants…

 

Conflict should stay on a personal level.

After the council meeting, Paul and Barnabas decided to head out again to visit the churches that they had started. Barnabas was ready, but he wanted to take Mark along. Paul disagreed. It’s little conflicts like these that comes along in our everyday lives. Maybe you want to get the family together for Thanksgiving, but decide to try a new turkey recipe this year. Or you get some friends together to watch the game and you forget to invite a certain someone. Word spreads. Pretty soon your great aunt is on the phone with your cousin, trying to persuade them of how evil of a person you are. When conflict arises, take Paul & Barnabas’s advice. It should just stay between the parties involved. Paul didn’t go around and hang posters convincing the world of his decision not to include Mark. Barnabas didn’t write epistles about how evil Paul was for leaving out Mark. They just kept it to themselves. We need to do the same.

 

Conflict shouldn’t be taken personally.

Relationships without conflict aren’t relationships at all. God’s creation was good, until Adam & Eve did the one thing they were told not to. We rebelled against God and we now have to pay the price. Because we live in a fallen world, conflict with always exist. There will always be disagreements, fights, and even the silent treatment. You’ll never get along perfectly with anyone. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “If only people were just like me! This world would be a better place.” The truth is it wouldn’t. It would be just as screwed up, just as sinful, just as conflict-ridden as always. We’re all that way. Because of the flesh, we’ll always have the tendency to want to look better in an argument. We want to be right and we want them to be wrong. When conflict does occur, we need to remember what’s more important. Why did God create Adam & Eve? Why do we exist? For relationship! Don’t let a simple disagreement destroy a friendship. Approach conflict like Paul & Barnabas. Don’t take it personally.

 

Conflict should be handled in a way that gives glory to Jesus.

Paul & Barnabas were in the midst of a disagreement. After some quick discussion, it was done. They parted ways. Paul went ahead with Silas, and Barnabas left with Mark. It’s easy to think that this disagreement was a bad thing. But a simple disagreement itself isn’t bad. It’s how we respond to the disagreement that could potentially be bad. Paul & Barnabas kept this disagreement between the two parties involved. They didn’t go out and attempt to convince others of their cause. They kept it between themselves and they didn’t take it personally. Paul & Barnabas knew what was most important: their relationship. Because they handled this conflict in a Godly way, Jesus was glorified. As a result of these two parting ways, new churches were started, others were involved in ministry, and the book of Mark was written! A simple conflict, and many more people came to know Jesus because of it.

 

Every relationship is bound to have conflict. We’ll argue about anything just so we can win. But we need to remember what’s most important. The next time conflict comes along in one of your relationships, respond like Paul & Barnabas. Keep it between the parties involved, don’t take it personally, and always handle it in a way that gives glory to Jesus! How are you handling conflict? Are you glorifying yourself or Jesus?

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Keoni Cabral)

Baptism

What’s The Deal With Baptism?

Summer is in full swing. If you’re having a summer that’s anything close to mine, you’re drowning right about now. It’s a busy season at Hillside Bible Church. We just finished our summer vacation bible school program (we call it Camp Hillside…it’s cooler), began our summer youth events with our annual Messy Night, and are busy making plans for our fall kickoff. So far this summer, we’ve seen 18 people come to know Christ! This past Sunday was exciting as well. Like we do every year, we had our worship service outside at our church property. It is always a beautiful experience to worship the Creator in the midst of His creation. During that worship service, I had the honor of doing a couple of baptisms as well.

Baptism can be a confusing thing, but it doesn’t have to be. Today, churches and denominations differ on who to baptize, how to baptize, and when to baptize. Churches will even have different positions on why they practice baptism in the first place. Some christians place too high importance on baptism, and some too little. In light of this present struggle I decided to post a few thoughts myself on the subject of baptism.

 

Baptisms aren’t magical.

When I was younger, I attended a local vacation bible school program. It was during that week long experience where I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. Like the good little baptist boy I was, I was soon thereafter dunked into the baptismal waters. For me, expectation was everything. I expected to go into the waters “Scott v.1″ and come out of the waters “Scott v.2″. The problem was I didn’t feel any different. After being baptized, I still struggled with my sin nature. After my baptism, I still felt like the same old Scott I was. Baptism wasn’t the magical water that I had expected it to be. Churches need to stop sending mixed messages. Baptisms aren’t magical. The water isn’t anything special. It’s just water.

 

Baptisms aren’t a means of salvation.

Baptisms aren’t magical, and they won’t save you either. Just like Jesus said, there are churches and pastors today that preach and teach a message that’s different from the gospel. The good news of Jesus is the news in which we were lost but now we’re found. From the beginning of time, our sin nature got the best of us. And because we’ve sinned, we had a price to pay: death. Jesus came and died for us. He shed his blood on the cross as payment for our sins and then he rose again proving that if we just have faith in Him, we can have life! Salvation is found in Christ alone. We can’t earn our way to heaven. We cannot spend enough, work enough, give enough, pray enough, to earn our salvation. Baptism won’t do it either. The thief on the cross hanging next to Jesus wasn’t baptized prior to his death, yet he joined Jesus in paradise that day. Baptism won’t save you, only Jesus will.

 

Baptisms are a celebration!

Baptisms aren’t magical, and they aren’t your way to salvation either. So, what are they? What is this thing that so many churches practice? Baptisms are simply a celebration! The gospel, or good news, is the best news of all history. We were dead in our sins. Because of our sin nature, we had a price to pay: death. And because there was nothing we could do about it, we were doomed to be eternally separated from God. That is, until the Word became flesh. The Son left his place of glory with the Father and dwelt among us. Jesus lived a sinless life, but died a sinless death. He alone was the perfect sacrifice that we so desperately needed. Once you realize that Jesus loved you enough to die for you, your life changes. (Mine did!) This news, this gospel, is so life-changing, you’ll want to share it with the world. And, that’s where baptism comes in. Baptism is one way followers of Christ can share that message with the world.

 

Maybe this is the first time you’ve realized the power of that sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and you want to start a relationship with Him. That’s exciting! Don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to pray with you. Maybe you’ve been a follower of Jesus for some time now, but have yet to be baptized. Go celebrate the Son. Show the world how Jesus has changed you. Find a church and get dunked! Just don’t forget, baptism isn’t magic. It’s not going to save you. Baptism is just a celebration of Jesus!

 

 

(Original Baptism Photos By: Tom Harpootlian)

 

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Questions? Comments? Leave your thoughts below!

Worship

You’re Not Good Enough

…and that’s ok. Let me tell you why.

If you’re like me you’ve probably doubted yourself. Your ability. Your strengths. Seemingly-omnipotent failure looms filling you with fear and doubt. Especially when it comes to doing something for God. Afterall, there are plenty of people who :

are more eloquent public speakers
can throw a football further
are more accomplished guitarists
paint better
cook better
teach better

Better. Better. Better.

God only uses the best of the best….right?

Jesus called lowly, average fishermen to be some of his close disciples. Moses murdered a man, burried him in the sand, and eventually led Israel. Paul ruthlessly killed the very people he ended up being a revolutionary leader of. God often uses rejects and outcasts, the ones who are the furthest from what you’d typically think of as influential. The sick, the poor, murders. People who realized their faults, weaknesses, and insufficiencies and trusted God to use them anyway.

Next time you have a challenge ahead of you and think, ‘I can’t’ remember that that’s sometimes the point: you can’t. Not on your own anyway. It’ll take the redemptive and empowering power of Christ to see it through. If you allow it, God uses our vunerability in fearing defeat and dwelling on doubt to strengthen our relationship with him and to strengthen our faith. Often times it’s scarier than the fear of failure, but once you trust God fantastic things can happen.

If we were good enough on our own we wouldn’t need Jesus.

-Noah Lane

 

(Photo by Flickr User: susieq3c)

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Thoughts? Leave a comment below!

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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!

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!

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)