Friday, April 07, 2017

Jesus Has All Authority!

I was recently asked the following question: "In Luke 8:22-56, what do you think Luke is trying to tell us about Jesus by grouping these stories together?"

In Luke 8:22–56, we find four miracles performed by Jesus. They are reported by Luke in a rapid sequence and in a condensed fashion. Here is a brief list of the four and possibly five miracles performed by Jesus:
1.     Calming the sea (Luke 8:22–25)
2.     Casting out the legion of demons (Luke 8:26–39)
3.     Healing the woman with a hemorrhage (Luke 8:40–48)
4.     Raising the girl from the dead (Luke 8:49–56)
It appears that Luke is detailing the authority of Jesus over several segments of creation and therefore is declaring His Deity while He walked on earth in His humanity.

In the Calming of the sea (Luke 8:22–25), Jesus declares His authority over creation. In this miracle, we see Jesus engage His omnipotence and Kingship over the world.

In the casting out of the legion of demons (Luke 8:26–39), Jesus declares His authority over spiritual world and the forces that disrupt good and promote evil. This is something He had already commanded His disciples to be doing and gave them another teaching on this topic through this example (Mark 3:13–15).

In the healing the woman of her hemorrhage (Luke 8:40–48), Jesus declares His authority over sickness. In this miracle, it seems Jesus engaged His omniscience and His omnipotence while encouraging and teaching His disciples of the importance of faith (Luke 8:48).

In the raising of the synagogue official’s daughter from the dead (Luke 8:49–56), Jesus declared His authority over death.

Jesus did all of these miracles with His disciples watching which would cause them to proclaim His authority, which they saw with their own eyes, to the world.

There may be another nugget in the middle of these stories that also proclaimed Jesus’ authority and genius. Jesus desires and commands for all believers to be about making disciples (Matthew 28:16–20). At the end of the story of the demonized man who was set free from the legion of demons, we find Jesus denying a brand–new believer to spend time with Him and instead sends him away to declare what Jesus had done for him. No formula. No program. No rote presentation. Simply he was to tell the whole cite (ten cities in Mark 5:19) what great things Jesus had done for him. We learn in Mark 5:20 that the results were that everyone in the ten cities marveled. This teaches me that Jesus wants even the newest believer to be proclaiming His good news and that they will be successful simply by obeying.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Church: Ministry or Missional Focus?

Hi and thanks for stopping by to view this video. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Take a moment and leave a comment. Blessings upon you!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Why Do I Talk About Being on Mission…a Lot?

I’ll admit it…I talk a lot about being on mission. Whether I am eating a meal, taking a hike, working around the house or teaching, I am asking the Lord who He wants me to connect with and what He wants me to say. Because I am passionate about giving people the hope, love and invitation to be in relationship with God, the message just ooze’s from my life.

I believe that Jesus has given to every believer His spiritual DNA so that they can grow into maturity and be reproductive for generations. People can be spiritually reproductive for generations if they pass the understanding of DNA to those they help become more like Jesus (discipleship).

DNA is Divine Truth (the Living and Written Word of God - Matt. 22:37), Nurturing Relationships (the one another taught in the Scriptures - Matt. 22:39) and Apostolic Mission (Apostle means sent one so every believer is sent to take the good news where ever they go - that is their mission -Matt. 28:16-20).

Most believers have some understanding that the Word of God (Living and Written) is vital to their spiritual health (Divine Truth). Most believers enjoy being with other believers in a variety of settings (Nurturing Relationships). In my experience, the area that is most lacking in believers is the intentional focus of sharing the good news through action and words  (Apostolic Mission). Because of this, God has had my life focus on being missional.

My emphasis for nudging people forward in mission is because I see God as being missional. The Missio Dei (Mission of God) is at the core of what we learn of Him in the Scriptures. Here are twelve core verses that speak of God being on mission (Missio Dei) and how He wants those who trust Him to be on mission as well.

Genesis 1:27-28
27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 12:1-3 
1Now the Lord said to Abram,
"Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father's house,
To the land which I will show you;
2And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

Exodus 19:5-6
5Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Matthew 24:14
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 28:18-20
“18…All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Mark 16:15
And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

Luke 4:18-19
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord."

John 17:20-21
20 "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

John 20:21
So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."

Acts 1:8
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Being missional must be more than something we believe or talk about. It must be something we do…something we are. We must be active (missional) in growing closer to God (Divine Truth). We must be active in growing in our love and service for each other (Nurturing Relationships). We must be active in our tangibly being present with other people so they can both see and hear the invitation of God to connect with Him.

Growing in the knowledge of God and the love for others is incomplete. We must also be focused on giving away our knowledge and love to the people God allows our life to intersect. God is missional everyday and in a variety of ways where ever you go. We must discipline ourselves to see these opportunities and then take action.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Necessity of Together

Jesus wasn’t kidding when he commanded every one of his followers to be engaged in helping each other to become like Him - making disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). Disciple making brings life to the soul. There are many ways that discipleship can be done but it must include the following basic ingredients: relationship, time investment and intentionally pointing each other to become more like Jesus. In Paul’s last letter, he instructs his closest disciple of over thirteen years, Timothy, that discipleship includes walking together in the same direction (2 Timothy 2:22 - Nurturing Relationships), a saturation of the Word of God in our souls (2 Timothy 3:16-17 - Divine Truth) and a strong engagement of sharing the good news of Christ with others as our mission (2 Timothy 4:5 - Apostolic Mission).

Discipleship is a core principle for the health of the church. When each believer takes seriously the task of growing deep in Christ with others, the gospel spreads wildly. Individualistic faith journeys, a hallmark of western Christianity, are not found in the Scriptures. Growth and spiritual reproduction always happens in relationship. Jesus sent out His disciples two by two (Matthew 10, Luke 10), He told us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20), all of the Paul’s missionary journey’s in the book of Acts were done in communal relationships, the one another’s of the New Testament speak to our need of discipleship and Paul’s last letter focused on discipleship (2 Timothy 2:2). Discipleship requires sacrifice. Sacrifices of time, energy, transparency, forgiveness, risk and love. Discipleship is a necessity for true spiritual health.

Recently I had opportunity to hang out with several people who all said they were followers of Christ Jesus. They were from a variety of faith communities including Presbyterian, Evangelical, Methodist and Catholic. We had many spiritual conversations as I mostly listened and sprinkled our conversations with a few questions and comments. During these conversations I heard thoughts from devotionals, quotes from their pastors or priests, a recalling of what their brand of church promotes and a sprinkling of insights from the Big Book (from alcoholics anonymous), celebrate recovery and the twelve step program. None of them referred to the Scriptures as their source of truth to guide their lives. 

Some of their insights had hints of Scriptural truth but many others were really far from the truth. Each of these dear people were searching for meaning in their life and a greater purpose. They were wounded, sincere people in their faith but immature because they saw their faith as something that was administered to them by professionals. Although these people were somewhat faithful in attending church services, they had no real connection to the people in their churches nor to their spiritual leaders. Because their faith had been reduced to individualistic faith journeys of attendance with no relationship or accountability, they all were floundering on many levels of their faith. They were filled with doubts, disillusionment and despair. They were each hovering on spiritual poverty if they were not already steeped in it. 
A few choice questions and Biblical passages of encouragement from me brought life to their eyes. Most commented that they wished we could spend more time together. Their pain was real and deep and taking more of their soul. Who will walk with them to dig out of the mire clay?

Becoming more like Jesus is to be the goal of each His followers. To be more like Jesus must mean you can’t continue to be who you are today. Dying to yourself on a daily basis (Galatians 2:20) and putting on Christ (Romans 13:14) are crucial decisions each believer must make in community as we walk this earth. We are to “…flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22 emphasis mine). Being transparent and vulnerable with a few others is dangerous, risky, bold and healthy in our fight to be more like Jesus Christ. 

Are you living an individualistic faith journey or a saturated faith journey engaged with others? Should you choose the former you will likely miss the deep satisfaction of abiding in Christ and end up living for yourself. Should you choose the latter, you will find a deeper fulfillment and your life will be saturated with Scripture, living out the one others of the Bible and a missional bent to invite others to do the same…and the world will be blessed. 

I pray these thoughts have been of some benefit to you. I would love to interact with you on this topic.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Happiness and Satisfaction - Part 2

When we seek to find satisfaction in our accomplishments, we end up pouring ourselves into the tasks that promise satisfaction but leave us wanting more. The focus of our life  centers on us instead of Christ. Chasing satisfaction, self-worth or money are all fleeting objects of worship (Eccl. 5:10). Yup, read that last sentence again...all of us have worshipped satisfaction, self-worth, money or all three! 

We need to have confidence (self-worth), but not in ourselves. Our confidence should come  from Christ living through us (Philippians 1:6, 4:13, Hebrews 4:16). We should live abundant (satisfaction) lives, but that is only found in the ways of Christ (Psalm 16:11, 17:15). We all need money to provide for ourselves and families, but chasing (loving) money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10).

In my last post, I wrote to you that finding true happiness happens when we become more and more like Jesus (Psalm 95:1-7; Matthew 5:6) not by pursuing self. Happiness comes through pursuing Christ as our priority and reminding ourselves about all He has done for us. His love for us is motivating like nothing else.

Psalm 95:1-7 invites us to remember what God has done for us and to enter into worshipping Him in community; "Come let US worship and bow down...". 

Psalm 95:8-11 warns us to not harden our hearts towards the Lord as the children of Israel did in the wilderness. 

8 The lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah,
as they did at Massah in the wilderness.
9 For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
even though they saw everything I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with them, and I said,
‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me.
They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11 So in my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest.’” (Psalm 95:8-11 (NLT)

The above verses are referring to Exodus 16-17. The children of Israel saw the Lord provide daily food in the form of manna and meat and yet, they did not trust Him to care for their need of water. They complained against God and even said they wish they had not left Egypt where they were slaves and poorly treated. This caused God to be disappointed with them. That generation did not experience the promised land - they lost their reward but not their relationship with Christ. 

Happiness comes when we remember and are grateful for all that Christ has done for us. Trying to create satisfaction never works for very long. Resting in Christ, trusting Him and keeping His priorities are truths that will never disappoint...but...we must believe and trust Him. Who do you trust more, your own efforts or God's priorities?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Happiness and Satisfaction - Part 1

I love planning for vacation. The weeks and days leading up to vacation motivate me and to look forward to what is about to come. No matter what I am doing, the thought of vacation seems to always be swirling in my thoughts.

There are many things in our lives today to distract us from keeping our thoughts on Christ; work, electronics, family, chores, errands and the list goes on. When our minds are swirling with the truths of Christ, our lives are actually happier in the midst of the busyness. 

Jesus said it this way, "Blessed (happy) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matt. 5:6 emphasis is mine). The world promises happiness and satisfaction through accomplishments but Jesus promises happiness and satisfaction through hungering and thirsting to be more like Him. So who do you believe; the world (accomplishments) or Jesus (being more like Him)?

One way to keep thoughts of Christ swirling in your mind all day long is to develop a gratefulness in your soul for all Jesus has done for you. Here is a short excerpt from Psalm 95 to remind us just a little of Christ has done for us. Hopefully, it will awaken your hunger for more of Him!

1Come, let us sing to the lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
3For the lord is a great God,
a great King above all gods.
4He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
and the mightiest mountains.
5The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
His hands formed the dry land, too.
6Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the lord our maker,
7for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
the flock under his care.
If only you would listen to his voice today!  (Psalm 95:1-7 NLT)

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Identity = Forgiven

So many people go through life full of guilt and shame. If you have placed your trust in Jesus, then your true identity is that you are forgiven for all of your sins! You have been redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ. Give this short video a look to gain a basic understanding of our forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Identity = Worshipper

If you are a follower of Jesus, He has changed your identity to be a worshipper of King Jesus. The transformation is so amazing that you can enter the very presence of God and worship Him for all He has and is doing for and through you. Listen to this 2 minute video and be reminded that your identity is a Worshipper of King Jesus!

You can view all of the Identity series on YouTube HERE!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Identity = Adopted

Once you place your trust in Jesus for your salvation, a whole new world opens up. In this short video we explore the truth that God has adopted us as daughters and sons to be His heirs and empowered to live with purpose and impact for Him.

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE

Friday, September 18, 2015

Identity = Chosen

When a person places their trust in Jesus Christ there is an identity switch! These short videos are to prompt you to explore more about your true identity in Christ if you have placed your trust in Him. This episode will discuss that we are Chosen by God as part of our new identity. Give this video a view and share it if you find it of some benefit!

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Identity = Blessings

God desires His followers to be impactful and influential throughout their lives, therefore, God has given every one of His followers "every spiritual blessing" (Eph. 1:3). Watch this 2 minute video to learn more about these spiritual blessings that God freely gives His followers!

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE!

Friday, September 04, 2015

Identity = Saint

You can view all of the videos in the "Identity" series by clicking HERE

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What are We Passing On? Choose Wisely!

When our three children were young, we learned it was nearly impossible to meet the demands and desires typical of a young active family. Options to participate in more events and sports were endless. The call of consumerism demanded we follow the culture to acquire the next coolest whatever. We certainly didn’t want to be “uncool”. The more things we engaged in, the less time we had to keep the house up, keep the cars clean, or to spend time at home together. As a family, we had to decide to create margins in our lives. Just as pages in a book have margins of white space so the eyes are not exhausted, we needed margins in our families life with no activities so we could prioritize and stay sane.

Margins in people’s lives is the concept of leaving open space for rest, restoration and refreshment. For many families, free space just isn’t available. When this happens, fatigue and even exhaustion begin to set in. Decisions must be made to create margins in our lives or sickness (physically, psychologically and spiritually) begins to hamper us. For many today, spiritual disciplines and commitments are what are compromised in order to find the peace and rest needed. The problem is that surrendering our spiritual well being is folly and Proverbs 9:13-18 says that folly brings death to our souls.

Some parents never consider a child’s desire to skip school, homework or practice. However, opting out of spiritual gatherings and disciplines generally isn't given much thought. Teachers, bosses and coaches carry weight that spiritual leaders don’t seem to have in our lives. When a coach calls because a practice is missed, we are grateful that he or she cares. When a spiritual leader challenges us towards faithfulness in Christ we cringe and cry control or legalism.

“We are never free from the battle between our flesh and the Spirit” (Galatians 5:17 NLT). Our culture screams for us to elevate ourselves while the Scriptures nudge us to a better way to live through service, sacrifice and surrender (2 Timothy 2:1-10). We are encouraged to seek God first, love others as ourselves and to be on mission to see Christ formed in others (DNA). 

We must gather together as families (spiritual and biological) and talk openly about how hard it is to fight against our cultures raging demands. Different decisions must be considered and made in order to find the peace, unity and maturity in our most holy faith.

The following are a few thoughts to work through in our spiritual and biological families in order to nudge people to a more mature walk in our life with Christ as family.

When we hoard our energy instead of expending it to others, our actions are stating that selfishness is acceptable.

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:3-7 NASB (also read the larger context of Philippians 2:1-17).

When we value saving our money more than we value generous giving, we teach others that our security is in our own abilities and that God’s principles are not to be trusted.

5 …but I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly. 6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 2 Corinthians 9:5b-9 NLT

When we creatively adjust our schedules to attend our children’s practices, games and events but opt to rest instead of being church with others, we are teaching others that the gods of this world are more worthy of our time and sacrifice than the King of Universe.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:30-34 NLT

When we can make it home after a busy Saturday to catch the game on TV but choose to linger at the park instead of spending time in the Word, we are teaching others that what delights our flesh is of higher value than what delights God.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB

When we instruct our children that they should not whimsically miss school or work but then complain we are too tired to be the church with others, we are teaching that spiritual disciplines are not worth our effort. We are teaching spiritual laziness!

“6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11 Prescribe and teach these things.” 
1 Timothy 4:6-11 NASB

Let’s work toward creating margins of refreshment in our lives so we can live out what is truly most important and demonstrating by our choices that we live for Jesus.

I would love hear your thoughts on these vital issues of our day.