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)

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!

Light

Let Your Light Shine

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Living as the light means living a life of action.

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

 

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

 

(Photo by Flickr User: mccun934)

No

It’s Okay to Say No

Let’s face it, Jesus was a pretty nice guy. As followers of Christ, we’re told to model our own lives after the life of Jesus. He gave up his own life in place of ours. He loved unconditionally. He served others. He spent time with the less fortunate, and the outcasts. Jesus even spent time praying for people.

He was one nice dude. Today, we try and emulate this lifestyle. Unfortunately, in our attempt to live like Christ, we often overshoot and live a completely different life. One that looks similar to Jesus, but it’s not the same. Think about it, how often have you heard someone tell you, “if Jesus were here he would…“, or, “Jesus would want you to…“. The world is always pushing believers to be more accepting, more loving, more supporting…quickly translating to: yes, yes, yes. In our lives defined by service, humility, and love, we can easily mistake the example Jesus set, with a life that always answers: yes. But, what about the times Jesus said, “no”?

For example, in Luke 12:13-15 we read of a conversation Jesus had with someone in the crowd.

“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” -Luke 12:13-15

After the man asked Jesus for help in his legal battle over an inheritance, Jesus’ response was shocking: no. Jesus not only turned down the man’s request, but he went on to rebuke his sinful lifestyle. Let me quickly stop and point out that we are not Jesus. As much as we’d like to be, we are far from Jesus. We’re not called to go out into the world and rebuke everyone’s sin, because we have enough sin problems of our own to deal with. (John 8:7) But we can learn a few things from Jesus’ response.

 

We shouldn’t always solve people’s problems.

In some cases, leaders are drawn into situations that don’t involve us. Whether it’s a family argument, a dispute between two adults, or a community issue, sometimes it’s just not right to take sides. In the passage in Luke, Jesus knew that it was best to just stay out of it. Bosses, leaders, and even pastors come across these traps every once in a while. Sure, when the argument pertains to something in which you have authority, sometimes the best thing to do is to get involved and help settle the dispute. But there are other times when saying ‘no’ isn’t necessarily being un-Christlike. It’s important to know when to say yes, and when to say no.

 

We shouldn’t always give people what they want.

Today, people just ask for stuff. They’re straightforward. Most of the time, they expect something to be given to them. Unfortunately, Jesus shows us that sometimes we shouldn’t always just give people what they want. Sometimes what people ask for is inappropriate, or can cause harm to others. There are times when people ask for something that goes against your moral judgement, or against God’s moral standards. Maybe the person asking insists that it is what is just, loving, and fair. They go so far as to say, “it’s what Jesus would do.” But we forget that sometimes, Jesus knew to say no.

 

We should always point them to Jesus.

We’re not told to say yes all the time, but we are told to share Jesus. Notice how in the earlier passage, Jesus concluded his conversation with a spiritual message. One that would push the man in the crowd closer to Christ. That’s our job as Christ followers. No matter what, we should always point people to Jesus.

 

As followers of Christ, it’s important to know when to say yes, and when to say no. It’s even more important to know how to say no. We need to do it gracefully, and we need to do it in a way that we can point them to Jesus. That’s my thought for the day. What’s yours? Be sure to comment below!

 

(Photo by Flickr User: net_efekt)

Photo by Flickr user: basheertome

A Short Rags to Riches Story (Sort of…)

It was just a mere 4 years ago when I first stepped foot into my church. I can honestly say that I knew Christ, but wasn’t living for him prior to that point in my life. After feeling God’s call to ministry (that’s a story in itself) I finally gathered up the courage to give the whole church scene another try. That first service, an Easter service, was one that I’ll remember forever.

Afterwards, I just knew that this was it. This church was the one I was supposed to be at. It didn’t take long for me to get connected either. Immediately, I began working as a pastoral intern, learning as much as I possibly could under the direction of a couple of experienced pastors. Shortly after that point, I was given the opportunity to preach my first sermon, and then another, and then another. Now it’s four years later. I still serve that church, Hillside Bible Church, as the Discipleship Pastor, and I’m still learning.

 

God can use anyone, no matter how broken.

To think that it was just 4 years ago, I was completely broken. Now, looking back on what God has done through me in just four short years is incredible. Leading short-term foreign missions trips, preaching at various local churches, watching young people come to know Christ, and sharing the Gospel of Jesus at camps & retreats are just a few of the amazing things that God’s given me the opportunity to do.

No matter how broken you are, God can use you. He has the power to turn your life around and use you to further His kingdom. It’s not a question of how broken you are, but how willing you are to be used.

 

God can use just one person.

Before answering God’s call to ministry, I truly doubted how effective I could be. How much change can one person make? How much help can just one person be? With God, one person can make all the difference. It was Noah, just one person, that God used to help bring mankind safely through the flood. It was Moses, just one person, that God used to lead Israel out of Egypt. It was John the Baptist, just one person, that God used to pave the way for Jesus. It could be you, just one person, that God uses next.

 

Last Sunday, I had the honor of preaching for our Easter service. In 4 short years, I went from a visitor of the church, to preaching the most exciting Sunday of the year. It’s been a crazy good 4 years. Here’s to many more!

 

 

 

**Leave a comment below about how God has used you, and don’t forget to subscribe for occasional updates to Scott’s ministry. (Photo By Flickr User: basheertome)