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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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!

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!

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)

The Walking Dead on AMC

4 Things We Can Learn From “The Walking Dead”

Maybe you’ve heard of AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead. Or maybe not, but that would be a real surprise. In the very rare case that you haven’t come into contact with the show, let me give you a brief explanation: it’s a zombie show that highlights the lives of a group of survivors. Pretty simple.

Early this month, the season 5 premier received a record breaking 17.3 million viewers even while competing with Sunday Night Football. The AMC network has already ordered a sixth season of the show as well as a spin-off show which follows a new set of characters through the same zombie-filled world. Surprisingly, this popular zombie television series isn’t just a great form of entertainment: it’s also filled with practical lessons for our Christian walk.  Here’s 4 things we can learn from The Walking Dead:

 

1. Always keep your guard up.

Just like the zombies in the show, Satan is always looking to rip us apart. His mission, as outlined in John 10:10, is pretty simple. The devil’s mission is to steal, kill, & destroy. That’s it.

He will stop at nothing to tear us down. We must always be on guard. If possible, Satan will try to destroy us from the inside out. He’s sneaky, just like a zombie. That’s why we need to pay close attention and always keep our guards up.

 

2. Be ready to attack.

The Christian walk isn’t all peace and defense. We’re at war, and with any war comes times of attack. In the show, zombies are scattered all over the earth. If they aren’t dealt with, they’ll just continue to follow you until you make a mistake. Then they’ll make their move. In the same sense, if things aren’t correctly dealt with in our Christian walk, it’ll keep following us until it gets a chance to become our undoing.

The characters on The Walking Dead have weapons at all times.. Have your weapons ready and at hand: God’s word and prayer! Remember, the best defense is a good offense. Be ready to attack!

 

3. Join a team you can trust.

The Christian walk, like surviving a zombie apocalypse, cannot be done alone. No matter how long you plan, or how hard you try, following Christ shouldn’t be done as a solo journey. A good team is needed. The church is God’s ordained vessel of ministry to the world. It would be extremely difficult, maybe even impossible, to be a genuine Christian without a church connection. Christians are called to meet together as a church.

In the zombie world, a solo survivor is hard to come by. Sure, there are exceptions to that rule, but in general, a good team is needed in order to survive. Want to survive a zombie infestation? Interested in being a genuine follower of Jesus? Find a team you can trust and join them today!

 

4. There’s always hope.

In the zombie ridden world of The Walking Dead, things are bad. Flesh craving monsters are hiding around every corner, selfish survivors are searching for people to take advantage of, and life sustaining resources are hard to come by. No matter how bad it seems, there’s always hope.

Same thing is true in this world. Sure, things can get pretty ugly. Hardships, trials, temptations, and sufferings are a very real part of our lives. Bad times are as much a part of this world as are good times. Fortunately, there’s always hope. Our debt has been paid with Christ’s death on the cross, and our lives have been restored through His resurrection. He died for us and was raised from the dead so that we can live. Sure, life gets tough. But remember this: no matter how hard life may seem, there’s always hope.

 

 

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