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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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!

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!

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!

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!

baltimore-hands

Baltimore Burning

The community of Baltimore has been in the spotlight this week due to a recent outbreak of violence. Beginning early this week, several riots turned ugly and ended up spawning into arson, burglary, and even theft. The national guard was dispatched, and police in riot gear attempted to calm the crowd. Several nights of mandatory curfew were put into effect.

Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles club decided not to open up their game to the public on Wednesday afternoon. This game went down in the history books as the first ever baseball game with an official recorded attendance of 0. Several groups have tried to explain away the actions of these individuals. Some believe that these events were the results of a racism problem that’s crippled Baltimore since the 1960’s. Others have concluded that it was a viral social media message that pushed individuals to act out in a malicious fashion. Either way, we can learn a few things from the recent events of Baltimore.

 

Stirring the embers of sin with sin.

Sin is like a bag of your favorite chips. You never stop with just one. For example, one little white lie always leads to many, many more. In the Baltimore situation this week, one sin was stirred with many more sins, leading to an uncontrollable mob of sinful people taking part in sinful actions. Satan likes taking sin viral. Unfortunately, in today’s world that’s not hard to do. We need to be different. We need to be set apart, and take a stand against sin before it spirals out of control.

 

A Jesus response.

Free speech is a great thing, but when your free speech turns into looting, arson, and theft, then it becomes a problem. Jesus was a proponent of peaceful, free speech. He also gave us several fruit we should strive to live by in every situation; whether good or bad. We are to live with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul gives us this list in what we call the fruit of the spirit. If you’re upset, if you’re anxious, our response to any situation should be filled with these fruit. No matter what, our mission in life isn’t to live for ourselves, but share the most important message of all: Jesus.

 

So what can we do for Baltimore? Pray. Pray for peace. Pray that the people would be able to find comfort and hope in this time of uncertainty, confusion, and anger. Pray for the law enforcement of the Baltimore area that they might continue to serve faithfully, for their protection, and for their spirits. Most importantly, don’t forget to pray that the people of Baltimore would remember to honor Christ instead of stirring the embers of sin with more sin.

 

(Photo Credit: Reuters/Jim Bourg)

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What are your thoughts on Baltimore? Leave them in the comments below!