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Showing posts from April, 2013

More from Jesus Is ___________

I am thoroughly enjoying Judah Smith's book, Jesus Is _______.  Here are a few quotes from several chapters I read last week:
"Jesus and joy are always a package deal. . .The answer to your joy problem is the gospel." "Sometimes preachers feel that we have to balance the good news and the bad news. . . It's human nature to mistrust what seems too good to be true. Let's settle in our hearts once and for all that Jesus is too good to be true. Salvation is too good to be true. Grace is too good to be true. Heaven is too good to be true. . . There's nothing bad or sad about God's gospel." "One of the reasons the gospel is so good is that it's more about God than about us. . .Religion says that obedience brings acceptance. The gospel teaches the opposite: acceptance brings obedience." "It's a holiness that is internally motivated, a holiness powered by love, not by guilt." "That is the gospel: God is with us."

Let's party!

I finished reading Creature of the Word by Chandler, Patterson and Geiger last week.  I would recommend the book to pastors and church leaders.  It has a great focus on the gospel and how to keep Jesus central in the church.

At the end of the book, they talked about our lack of celebration in the Body of Christ.  Here is a quote:
"Not only should celebration be encouraged and modeled corporately, but it should also be encouraged personally." They shared that we need to point out the evidences of grace that surround us daily.  Here is what it accomplishes:
First, we are celebrating the work of God.Second, we are teaching others to be on the lookout for grace.Third, celebration should also propel us to long for more of God's Spirit. What are examples of celebration in your church?

I can share three from Hesston MB. 
Balloon Celebrations when children follow ChristBaptism servicesWeekly encouragement to share what God is doing in your life during Sunday worship  Let's be …

Experience with God

On Friday, I was participating in my daily schedule of praying for people and church.  Occasionally, my mind will wander and I have to ask God to help stay focused.  On this day, I was worshiping by singing along with a song on YouTube.  And all of a sudden, I had a thought of something I needed to write down.

Rather than be discouraged, I stopped and asked God to reveal to me all the thoughts related to this sermon I am preaching on May 19th.  Let me just say, "Praise God! Amen. Wow!  Over the next twenty minutes, God revealed each of those thoughts in addition to reassuring me of His great love for me.  This was a powerful experience with God.  I cannot put it into words, but God revealed Himself through thoughts, emotions, words, and more. 

Why do I share?  Because in a post later this week, I write about the importance of celebrating what God is doing.  I want to celebrate not only God's answer to my prayer, but also His reminder that He is with me and for me.  Amen!

Do you have power?

We believe God is powerful. But how does this power affect us? Listen to these words from Scripture:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know . . .his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18-19)

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. (Ephesians 3:16)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)

Finally, be strong in The Lord and in his mighty power. (Ephesians 6:20)
Are we going to believe these truths? Will we in the church begin to use the power that is available to us? May we be empowered by God today in amazing and unbelievable ways!

God Isn't Out to Get You by Steven Furtick

Here is a great illustration and teaching from Steven Furtick of Elevation Church. 



Do you believe this?  If not, ask God to reveal why not and immerse yourself in His Word.

Goodness of God

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a conference entitled, "The Goodness of God."  Due to scheduling, I was not able to attend every session.  However, I was able to attend most of it.  I thought I would share a few quotes from the conference:

"We need to make Jesus the center of our theology." "Much of the church is bipolar in their belief about God. You never know, He might be good or bad." "Love assumes the best about someone. Why don't we do this with God?" "John 10:10 gives us the job descriptions of Satan and God." "Jesus didn't just come to die for sin, but also to reveal who the Father is." "In the church, we see Jesus and God like good cop/bad cop." "We need to read the Old Testament with a Jesus compass." "Why is the church impotent? We are double minded about God." "Repentance is wise and grounded in grace." "God is only all-powerful within His cha…

Law and Grace

I seem to be having a lot of conversations lately about the law and gospel.  We understand that the law cannot save us.  The law has no power.  What is the point of the law then?    Check out these verses:

3 For what the law was powerlessto do because it was weakened by the flesh,God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful fleshto be a sin offering.And so he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that the righteous requirementof the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:6)  My understanding is the law points out of our sin and points us to Jesus. Grace is where the power is.  Grace brings about the change in our lives.

Here are a few quotes from Judah Smith on this topic:

"Bottom line: they had missed the point of the la…

Thoughts on the Gospel

What is the gospel? Was the gospel shared in worship on Sunday? How do you respond to these questions?

The answer reveals much of our understanding about God, Jesus, salvation, and the church.

Some people believe the gospel means everyone is saved. Others believe the gospel is what is shared to get someone saved. They believe the "altar call" is necessary at every service and if the pastor doesn't share the gospel then he is not concerned with people getting saved. Still others understand the gospel to be about what Jesus has done for us and it applies to all of life, not just a salvation decision.

I agree with the last viewpoint. The more I understand of God's love, what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the more I realize I need the gospel daily. It was not just something that got me saved. It is something that also keeps me saved. We rightly teach that salvation is by grace through faith alone. However, once saved, we shift…

Time Away

Last week, I got away from my regular routine and spent about two hours praying and listening to the Lord.  I have been neglecting these extended times away lately. Not sure why-probably busyness and lack of planning. 

I would encourage each of you to set aside a couple of hours every month or so to pray and listen. I am always blessed by these relationship building times with God.  All you need is a quiet place, time set aside, Bible, and notebook.  It will be worth it!

God's Not Mad At You

Do you agree?

I have had several conversations lately on this very topic. When God looks at you, what does He see or think?  I was not raised to believe God was mad at me or was waiting for me to mess us so He could strike me down.  Where does this belief come from?

Yes, God is holy.  Yes, sin must be dealt with.  But both of these are solved at the cross.  One who is holy and without sin took my sin and made me righteous.  Here are some verses to think about today:

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us?32 He who did not spare his own Son,but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-32, 38-39) 21 G…

Your Yearbook, Part 2

Yesterday's post was about what God would write in your yearbook. What did you come up with? Here are a few thoughts from Judah Smith from Jesus Is _______:

"They know they were saved by grace initially, but they feel as though every new sin is another nail in Jesus' hands."

"Jesus said, It is finished. The more I think about this potent little phrase, the more convinced I am that we need a bigger estimation of God and a smaller estimation of sin."

"We often approach sin backward. We try to control or diminish its effects, but we never deal with its internal power and shame."

"On one level, sin is a big deal. But it's not as big a deal as it used to be, and it won't be a big deal at all in the future. . . Jesus' death dealt with the guilt of sin and the power of sin."

"We would do well to stop focusing on our sins, our failures, our weaknesses, our pasts, and our legalistic attempts to live in holiness and simply relish…

Your Yearbook

This past week, I was reading from Jesus Is ________ by Judah Smith. He talks in one chapter about yearbook day. We all remember yearbook day. That day when you get your yearbook and you have everyone sign it and write nice things about you. You can't wait to read the comments at home. Did the quarterback of the team think I was a stud? Did the smartest girl think I was intelligent? Or we wonder, were they annoyed by me or thought I was stupid?

Here is the question Smith poses, "What would God write in your yearbook today?"

How would you answer that question? Of course, He would tell us He loves us. What else? Would He mention we did OK and keep striving and working to keep our sin under control? Would He remind us to keep serving and doing good things?

Share in the comments below what God would say in your yearbook.

Check back tomorrow for a few thoughts from Jesus Is ___________.

Ice Storm

If you are not from Central USA, you might not know that we were hit with an ice storm this past week. Several people lost power and many tree limbs were left lying in roads and yards. As I was driving today, I was thinking about the comparisons of ice and sin.

Here are a few:
The ice is beautiful and sin can appear attractive.Just like the ice is weighing down the trees, our sin can also weigh us down. See Hebrews 12:1The ice on trees and power lines can be destructive and dangerous. Sin is destructive and dangerous.Sin like the ice can trip us up and make us fall.The ice will leave a mess and require clean up. Sin also leaves a mess and needs to be cleaned up.
I am thankful for my relationship with Jesus that allows my past, present, and future sins to be forever dealt with and forgiven. I am grateful that Jesus' death on the cross has cleaned up sin, picked us up when we fall, removed the weight, and has given us something truly beautiful to focus on.

Talking and Thinking

I love reading books!  I could not have made that statement 10 years ago.  Each time I read Scripture or a new book, it challenges my thinking and I cannot keep it in.  I have to share with someone over coffee, at a meeting or on this blog.

Here are a few things I am pondering these days:

The depth of what Jesus accomplished on the crossOur need of the gospel every day not just at salvationThis leads to a greater love for people because no one is beyond God's graceMy identity in Christ and how that affects the way I liveMaking disciples with individuals at various places on the spiritual journeyOur view of God dramatically affects our faithKeeping Jesus at center of everything at church The power available to us via the Holy Spirit and how to use it What are you pondering these days?

Grace Is A Person

This is the chapter title for Chapter 5 of Judah Smith's book Jesus Is _________. I almost wore out a highlighter as I read this chapter. I encourage you to pick up the book. Here are some quotes: "People don't need grace to sin. They need grace to deal with the sin they already have." "That means that grace and truth aren't enemies. They are on the same side. We don't need to balance grace with truth or truth with grace, because they are both personified in Jesus." "If you want to know what God thinks of you, or what God would say about your sin, or how God would respond if he were face-to-face with you, just look at Jesus, and you'll know." "it (grace) will not motivate you to sin. It will motivate you to righteousness." "Allegiance to a doctrine can only last so long, but relationship trumps everything. We'll do anything for someone we love." "The point is this: some of us put too much trust in rules…

Is your children's and youth ministry focused on the gospel?

On Thursday, I was again reading Creature of the Word by Geiger, Patterson, and Chandler. Chapter 8 is a great chapter that all children's and youth workers should read. It gives a perspective that we all need to consider. Here are some thoughts from the chapter: "children and students are often pummeled with curriculum designed for behavioral modification rather than gospel transformation." "Perhaps many churches fail to teach the gospel to children because law is more attractive. Law provides children's ministry leaders and parents with the false assurance that we are doing the right things, that we can check boxes off a spiritual checklist." "A changed heart will result in obedience." "So the hearts of children ultimately do not need protection but transformation." "The "next big thing" mind-set regarding a student-ministry calendar fosters an unhealthy dependence on programs." "While children's minist…

Art of Marriage pictures

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Art of Marriage begins tonight

I am so excited about The Art of Marriage that begins tonight.  This is our second year hosting this great event for couples by Family Life.  It uses humor, great teaching, and projects to strengthen marriages.  I would encourage all couples--seriously dating, engaged, newlyweds, married with or without kids, empty nesters, and retired to attend.  Find a local church hosting one and sign up today!  You can find a list of locations at www.artofmarriage.com
I won't be posting anything the rest of the weekend, but stop back on Monday and Tuesday for new posts about Creature of the Word and Jesus Is  _________.

Do you recognize the power? by Steven Furtick

Do you recognize the power that is available to you?  Listen to this brief clip from Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church.  I agree with him.  A lot of us Christians don't realize and use the power available to us.


Molly is a follower of Jesus

As many of you know, Molly (my youngest daughter) chose to follow Jesus last night.  We are so excited that all of our children are followers of Jesus.  Because we were not good about writing things down with the previous kids, I wanted to write something to remember the actual date of Molly's decision.

It all began on Friday of last week on the way to Wichita.  Mitchell, Megan, and I were headed to Winter Jam at Intrust Bank Arena.  As we were pulling up to Intrust, Molly said, "I want to ask Jesus into my heart." Bethany and I were caught offguard and the traffic was pushing us forward.  We decided we would talk with Molly later.

I have been praying for all my kids to Love God & Love Others.  I also pray for them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.  I have been praying for Molly from a young age that she would make a decision to follow Jesus.  So, throughout the weekend, I continued to pray that if this was the Holy Spirit speaking to Molly that she wo…

Quotes to Ponder

Do you ever get tired of me sharing quotes with you?  I hope not.  I have had several people comment that they have benefited from the quotes, so I keep doing it.  Here are some quotes from Jesus Is            and Creature of the Word:
"Grace is the foundation of Christianity and the essence of salvation.""That's why I think we should smile in church-we should dance, we should celebrate, we should laugh, and we should get over our serious selves and represent the joy of heaven.""We are sons and daughters of God by birth, not by worth.""Our sonship is not based on our performance but on Jesus's finished performance . . .""Jesus died for us before we were born, before we had done anything, good or bad. Why is he going to start making us live by rules and law now?" "Jesus fulfills every promise of the Old Testament, bringing light and clarity to the entirety of the canon of Scripture.""Gospel-centered preaching and t…

Prayer for Your Pastor

This week in our D6 Dads groups, we are discussing a chapter from Prayer Coach  by James Nicodem about praying for pastors.  I thought his suggestions were helpful so I would like to share them with you.  Some may apply more specifically to lead pastors, but all of them are good reminders of the importance of praying for our leaders.

Hesston MB, we pastors appreciate your prayers.

Here are seven days of praying for your pastor:
Day 1-That they would be honored, affirmed, encouraged and respected.Day 2-That they would be protected from the focused attacks of Satan, stay far from sin, and walk in obedience to God's Word.Day 3-That God would give them wisdom, patience, perseverance, and grace in facing people problems, and that those they lead would be loyal, understanding, and supportive.Day 4-That their marriages and parenting would be God-pleasing and wise.Day 5-That, in preparation for teaching God's Word, the would hear God's voice, protect their time for study, be kept f…

Christ Arose

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Easter has come and gone, but the message never goes away.  Enjoy this video of one of my favorite Easter songs.