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)

Baby

A Seed-Sized Life

My life changed this week. It was a normal Tuesday morning like any other week. I was hitting the snooze button as often and as quickly as I could in order to get as much sleep as possible. Dreams of adventure and excitement filled my mind as I laid there dreading the sound of the next alarm. In the blink of an eye, the lights turned on and Amanda came running into the bedroom like she had just uncovered the most exciting news in her life. “We’re pregnant!” she screamed with a smile.

This Tuesday, Amanda and I discovered the joy of new life. Two pregnancy tests had confirmed what she thought was the case. She can now officially say that there’s a baby on board. It’s an exciting time in our lives to say the least. We’re looking forward to the next 9 months and are ready to welcome the first member of our little family. As we uncovered this big life-changing news this week, a few reminders came to mind that I wanted to point out today…

 

Life is a gift from God

Whether it’s one day or one thousand years, all life is a precious gift from God. But, too often, we trick ourselves into thinking that life is our own doing. We think that we’re really the ones in the driver seat, and have complete access to the controls of life. This idea is unfortunately shot when something unexpected happens. While our little baby is patiently growing, it’s easy to get nervous about not being in control. What if something happens? What can I do to help this baby? We long for more control, and we forget that it wasn’t us that created this life but God. God is in complete control. He’s been the giver and sustainer of life from the time of creation, and will be for all eternity. We need to constantly remind ourselves that He alone is the creator, and that all life is a gift from God.

 

It was good.

After thinking about our little growing baby, I began to think about the perfectness of creation. Imagine a perfect life. It’s the way life was meant to be lived. A life without failure, rejection, or death. In the beginning, God created and it was good! Creation was how it was meant to be. But the goodness of creation didn’t last long. A chapter later, Adam & Eve did the one thing they were told not to. They ate the fruit from the one forbidden tree, and as a result sin & death entered the world. One glance at news sources in today’s world and you’ll be reminded how far we’ve fallen from the goodness of creation. We choose to live for self rather than something greater. I’m sad to say that even this little baby of ours will choose to sin against God. We’re not living in that perfect world anymore. Instead, our world is fallen. God created and it was good, for a little bit.

 

All hope was lost, until Jesus.

God created. It was good. Adam & Eve chose to rebel against God. Sin & death entered the world. All hope was lost, until Jesus. We all have walked in Adam & Eve’s shoes. The line was drawn and we have all chosen to walk across it. At one point in our lives, we’ve all sinned against God. Probably even every day. And because of our wrongdoings, we have a price to pay: death. But that’s not the end of the story. God put on flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus went to the cross and paid our price. He died the death that we deserved, and then He was raised from the grave proving that in Him we can find new life. Sure, our baby will choose to sin against God. And, as much as mommy and daddy love you, we can’t even afford to pay for our sins let alone yours. We can’t, but Jesus can.

 

After hearing this news, I was excited and at the very same time I was afraid. I’m afraid to see the world that my child will be living in. This is a world of selfishness. It’s a world where we pretend that we control and sustain our own lives. We trick ourselves into thinking that because it’s our body we can do what we want. This world is far from the perfect world that it was meant to be. Yet this is the world where my child will be born. Still, I have hope because of Jesus.

Thank you Lord for this precious gift of life. In today’s confusing and selfish world it’s easy to fall. My hope and prayer is that when this little one falls, that you would be there to pick them up.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Lou Haach)

Filling The Void

Filling The Void

When’s the last time you heard from God? There are times in my life when God just seems to be silent. Silent times like these aren’t anything new. In fact, scripture is filled with times where people don’t hear anything from God. These people who experience the silent treatment, aren’t nobodies either. These are spiritual heroes that we learned about in Sunday School! Take Job for example. He was all in for God, and all of a sudden, experienced the fullness of God’s silence. Abraham was called by God to offer up his son, Isaac. During that journey, God was silent. Years later, Joseph spent years in prison, and the Bible doesn’t make any mention of God talking to him.

In 1 Kings 17, God comes to Elijah and tells him that there will be a severe drought in the near future. The next chapter begins with something interesting, “After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah…” These many days turned out to be 3.5 years! For 3.5 years God didn’t move. For 3.5 years Elijah the prophet hadn’t heard from God. Sometimes God is just silent. We’ve all been where Elijah was. We’ve all been desperately waiting to hear from God, only to receive nothing. No words, no burden, just silence. These moments are a part of our everyday walk with Christ. That’s why it’s important to know how to get through them. Here’s a few suggestions on how you can fill the void.

 

A Silent Opportunity

Has God been silent lately? What if you were to approach this time as an opportunity? Use this time to assess your spiritual health. How is your walk with Christ? Are you struggling with sin? Use this time of silence to confront that pattern of sin in your life. Maybe you can remember the passion you had for Jesus when you first came to know Him, and yet the passion you have today pales in comparison. You can remember how joyful you were when you first realized that Jesus died for your sins and then was raised from the dead. But that joy is long gone. You’ve lost your first love. Use this time of silence to fall in love with God again. Get back to the way things were at first. Don’t look at this time of silence as an obstacle to overcome. These times are far from obstacles. Count it an opportunity.

 

Time To Trust

We’ve all been there. You haven’t heard from God in a while, and you’re really hoping you hear something and soon because it’s getting tough to trust. You might even say that this silence is pushing you to doubt. God’s been silent for a while. Does He really care about what I’m going through? Am I even on His radar anymore? Is He even there? It’s questions like these that we begin to ask when God is silent. I’ll admit it: I don’t hear from God everyday. Yes, I’m in ministry and I’m called to push people to Jesus. But that doesn’t mean I hear from God everyday.  Sometimes there are these times of silence, where I don’t hear anything new from God. Satan loves these silent times. The devil tries to convince me that these silent times are my own doing. He even encourages doubt. I’m not proud of it, but sometimes the king of this world gets through to me. These voids cause good people to stumble, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Instead of doubting, why not place more trust in God?

 

Be On Alert

No matter what, don’t forget what we’re really supposed to be doing. Don’t give up hope. Sure, sometimes God is just silent. That doesn’t mean we can be too. No matter what God is up to, we have a job to do. We need to continue to place our trust in Him. We must continue to wait on Him and watch for Him. Just because you haven’t seen Him at work, or haven’t heard from Him, doesn’t mean you have a free pass to take a break until something changes. Get to work! Listen closely for something from God. Pay close attention to God working around you. If you do, you’ll make surviving the silence a lot easier.

 

I don’t like it, but sometimes God just seems to be silent. These can be tough times. I hope that the next time God is silent, that you’ll decide to look at this as an opportunity. I hope you’ll challenge yourself to place more trust in Him, and above all be watchful for God. Never lose hope. Is God silent? Fill the void.

 

(Photo by Flickr User: Dananjaya Chathuranga Photography)

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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Jonah

Why Most Christians Are Like Jonah

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

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

 

We’re called to share the Gospel.

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

 

Instead of answering the call, we usually run.

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

 

God uses the broken.

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

 

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

 

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Thoughts? Leave a comment below!

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!