Paydown Sunday & His Story

We’re in the homestretch of our Radical Faith Stewardship Journey and for the last two weeks we’ve asked you our church family to pray and fast about how you might participate in the final months of this effort. Radical Faith has made a difference with nearly $1.4 million being given to global and local outreach, along with debt reduction freeing-up funds for future ministry. If you haven’t received a Homestretch brochure, check out this online resource for more information on Radical Faith initiatives and how those funds have made a difference: cedarridgecc.com/radical-faith-homestretch

At the conclusion of services at all of our campuses this Sunday, we will provide a time of prayer and an opportunity to bring forward your Homestretch commitment card and/or give a “Paydown” offering to paydown your pledge and paydown our debt. In the meantime, please pray about how you and your family might help us finish strong with Radical Faith and “retire not renew” our mortgage note that is set to be renegotiated in May.

Radical Faith has always been more about our faith than it has been about finances. Ask God to speak to your heart and then simply respond to him in humble obedience. I hope you’ll help us finish strong our Radical Faith journey.

Last Sunday’s message covered the final moments that Jesus had with his disciples in the upper room. In the His Story text are contained four goodbye reminders that Jesus gave his disciples.

Remember how I served you. Jesus left them with a visual that they would never forget. He washed their dusty feet. He even washed the feet of Judas who had an even filthier heart, having already planned to betray his Lord. In the process of washing their feet, Jesus told them to do the same for one another.

Remember how I saved you. Another very visual reminder, Jesus ate the Passover meals with his disciples. And then proclaimed that he was initiating a new covenant. This meal that celebrated the Israelites’ salvation from the death angel we find out was all along pointing to something even bigger when God would sacrifice the perfect lamb and his blood would cover our sins and save us from death.

Remember to continue my mission. Jesus was clear that his disciples would continue the work, and that they would be opposed. They would also do greater things than Jesus (John 14:12) and that anything they asked in his name, he would do (John 14:13).

Remember I’m sending you help. In fact, Jesus told his disciples that it was good for them that he go, so the Holy Spirit could come and empower them. And that’s exactly what happens after Jesus returns to heaven – the disciples are saying and doing things they could not have done on their own.

Only three more installments of His Story remain. Do your best to join us these final weeks and get to know Jesus like you’ve never know him before. If you missed the latest message or any of the His Story series, you can view them here.

Homestretch of His Story and Radical Faith

This past Sunday we launched the homestretch phase of our Radical Faith Stewardship Journey. You can read all about this three year campaign we began in November 2011, including our major goals and what has been accomplished so far at .

The bottom line is that we are in the final months of this initiative and as a church we want to finish well. We’ve asked our entire church family to participate by taking a 2 week spiritual journey. We’ve asked you, through April 13th, to engage God in a deliberate way. Set your clock at 6:33 pm and pray daily for our church (Project 633 is based on Matthew 6:33). And go on a spiritual fast of negative thoughts and entertainment, instead seeking God’s will for your participation.

At the conclusion of this 2 week spiritual journey, Sunday, April 13th, we’re asking you to fill out a commitment card of your intention to participate, through faith, in the homestretch of our Radical Faith campaign. We’re also asking you to consider giving a special “Paydown Offering” toward your commitment that day so that we can “retire not renew” our mortgage note that is set to be renegotiated with the bank in May.

The end is in sight. We are so close to being debt free and with that able to free up those funds for ministry. I’m not asking you to do any more than to ask God to speak to your heart and then respond to him in humble obedience. Please join us in this faith journey.

Sunday we talked about the events that lead into the final week of Jesus earthly ministry. It began on Sunday with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In this short period of time, we see the stark contrast between people who really know Jesus and those who are only interested in being religious.

People who know Jesus celebrate being with him. Religious people only complain. That was obvious on that first Palm Sunday. The crowds celebrated and rejoiced. They had experienced what being with Jesus was about. The Jewish leaders complained about all the celebrating.

People who know Jesus help others access him. Religious people care only about themselves. When Jesus cursed the fig tree and cleansed the temple for the second time on the following Monday, there was a bigger message behind it. It was an indictment on the Jewish leaders who were themselves being unproductive to their calling by denying people access to God. Jesus reminded them from scripture that the temple was to be a “house of prayer for all nations.”

People who know Jesus anticipate his return. They remain faithful to him knowing that he will return without warning. But as they wait, they’re also compassionate to the world around them. Because they know Jesus, they look for him in the underserved and underprivileged and serve as if they’re serving him. According to Jesus, there will be religious who won’t be ready and will have missed the opportunity to “do unto the least of these.”

You cannot afford just to be a “religious person” who simply knows about Jesus. Get to know Jesus like you’ve never known him before; speak to him in prayer, engage him through his word, be quiet and listen to him, celebrate being with him, help others find him, and look forward to the day when he will return for those who truly know him

When you miss Sunday services, you don’t have to miss out on the message. They are usually available on our website by noon every Sunday. You can view Sunday’s message here:

Halfway Through His Story

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It’s so easy for religions to focus on external behavior. I guess that’s why so many do. It’s the easier thing. It doesn’t matter what brand of religion it is, the idea is this – If you perform these acts of piety and don’t engage in these evils, then you’re in. Without trying to be too simplistic, that sums up many of the major world religions.

While that unfortunately may be how many Christians practice their faith, that is a far cry from what Jesus intended. He has always been more concerned with the interior condition of our hearts. Faith in Jesus is a heart matter. In fact, Jesus corrected the thinking of the Jewish religion leaders of his day because they thought righteousness started with the hands and moved to the heart. Jesus told them they had it backwards. It starts with the heart and culminates with the hands. Jesus is far more concerned about who you’re becoming than what you’re doing. When the heart is right, your actions follow. But when you’re heart isn’t right and you try to make your actions right, you’re just being a hypocrite (according to Jesus). Jesus certainly wants us to do right thing. He just wants it to be the result of a right heart.

Don’t fall for spiritual short cuts. It may be easier to put on a spiritual band-aid. But what Jesus wants to do is major heart surgery. Let him do that and he will change you from the inside out.

If you missed Sunday’s message from our His Story series, you can view it at here:

Continuing our His Story Series

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This past Sunday I taught on Jesus feeding the 5,000 and the heated discussion that ensued. It’s shocking to me to see how the crowds’ questions resemble contemporary faith struggles. It’s in the aftermath of this famous miracle that Jesus gets down to the “fine print” of following him.

True followers are interested more in the spiritual than the fleshly. First century fans of Jesus were enthusiastic about the free food and miraculous healings. But when it came down to accepting Jesus for who he was, they became disinterested. That’s what fans do, as long as the team is winning, as long as there is a tangible benefit, they’re in. Jesus said that true followers, on the other hand, look beyond the temporal and seek eternal pursuits.

True followers trust Jesus even when it’s difficult or doesn’t make sense. Jesus said that the work God wants from us is to believe in the one he sent. Trusting Jesus is work. Trusting Jesus is THE work that really matters. And trusting Jesus is HARD work – especially when things aren’t going your way. Jesus told John the Baptist while he sat in prison (and would soon be executed, “God blesses those who do not turn away because of me” (Matthew 11:6). Why that? Because faith is hard work when you’re going through trials and Jesus lets it happen.

True followers recognize that it is only by the grace of God that they are drawn to Jesus. The Jews kept asking Jesus for proof of his authority. They wanted a sign so they could make their own determination as to the validity of his claims to be the Messiah. Jesus told them that it doesn’t work that way. No one comes to Jesus because of their spiritual insight or shrewd discernment of the evidence. That would be spiritually arrogant. We only come to Jesus because God draws us to him. While we certainly have a choice in the matter, we need to recognize it is by grace of God that we seek to follow Jesus.

What’s interesting is that it’s often one of these areas that causes people to walk away from their faith even today. They get caught up pursuing fleshly temptations. Or they can’t believe in a God who would let them suffer like that. Or their spiritual knowledge grows larger than their child-like faith. As we consider the “fine print” from Jesus, may we echo the commitment of the prophet Elisha when it comes to following him, “I’m all in and I’m not ever going back.”

If you missed Sunday’s message from our His Story series, you can view it here:

More His Story

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At one point during Jesus life on earth, crowds were flocking to Jesus to hear his revolutionary teaching and see him perform miraculous healings. It wasn’t just the power of Jesus that was so amazing. It’s that he was willing to use that power on a category of people that were considered untouchable.

Last weekend we talked about his compassion toward the widow who lost her one and only son. We read about his tenderness directed to a chronically sick and relationally-isolated woman. We heard about forgiveness being offered to an embarrassingly immoral woman. And the life-altering mercy he offered the demoniac outcast.

And we heard about Jesus being amazed…twice. In fact, the only two times that it is recorded in the gospels. What amazed Jesus? In both instances it had to do with faith. He was amazed at the trust of a Roman centurion. Simply put, this man had a confidence in Jesus that evidently was a rare exception. It wasn’t his scriptural knowledge or his religious acts that impressed Jesus. It was his big faith. It was his extraordinary confidence in Jesus that was noteworthy.

While Jesus was amazed at the faith of an outsider, he was also amazed at the unbelief of insiders, those from his own hometown. They refused to accept him. They recognized him as “the carpenter,”…”Mary’s son,” and they “took offense” at him. And we’re told that because of their unbelief that Jesus was somehow limited in his capacity to perform miracles.

What would Jesus have to say about your faith? Amazed at your confidence in him? Or amazed at your unbelief? Just as we’ve talked repeatedly that there’s a difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. There’s also a difference between believing in Jesus and believing Jesus. Many claim to “believe in” him. They accept his historicity. They agree with his teaching. But they’ve don’t trust him for the way they live their lives. A good question to consider is this – is my confidence in God increasing?

If you missed Sunday’s message, you can view it here:

His Story Continues

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It seemed everywhere Jesus went, someone was wanting Jesus to do something for them. They wanted him to perform a miraculous sign, heal their physical ailments and oh provide lunch too. And many times Jesus was moved out of compassion to do such things. While Jesus was happy to do things for people, it was clear in chapter three of His Story, that Jesus wants so much more than that. He wants more than just to do something FOR you, he wants to do something IN you.

In Luke 4, Jesus is in the synagogue of his home town where the people “spoke well” of him. But when he refused to perform miracles to their liking, they literally ran him out of town. As if to say, “if you’re not going to do something for us, then we refuse to believe in you.” That’s not too far removed from some people I’ve come across. If Jesus isn’t going to do something for them (fix their financial mess, reconcile their marriage, or heal a loved one) then they will show their disapproval by refusing to believe in or have anything to do with that kind of Jesus.

But Jesus wants more than just to do something for you. He’s interested in doing something in you. He’s more interested in you carrying-on a relationship with him. He’s more interested in you accepting his revolutionary message. He’s more interested in your heart conforming to his. He’s more interested in your experiencing good news that he brings freedom and cancellation of your sin debt. In fact, Jesus wants to do something in you so that he can do something through you.

Jesus told his new disciples that he wanted their help in literally “taking lives captive.” And they left their boats and their books behind and followed him. While you may not be called to leave your vocation behind, every follower of Jesus is called to let Jesus work through you; to let him speak through you. We are called to deliver his message, to demonstrate his mercy, to tell his story.

Are you letting Jesus do something through you? Maybe first and foremost the question is: Have you let Jesus do something in you?

I hope you’ll join us each week of “His Story.” If you missed Sunday’s message, you can view it here:

Jesus’ Mission Begins

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In week two of our His Story series, we saw the initiation of Jesus’ ministry. And while there were no press releases or news conferences announcing this startup, there were some impressive statements made about who Jesus is. God the Father, John the Baptist, even Satan himself gave testimony of the fact that this was Jesus, the Messiah, the very Son of God.

Jesus wastes no time in revealing his true identify. He performs a miracle in Cana, changing water into wine. He runs the corrupt business dealers out of the temple. He has life-changing conversations with individuals (One resulting in an entire Samaritan village believing in him). His ministry is quickly in full swing.

In this series, we want you to know Jesus, not just know stories about him. And if there were any question about how you prepare your heart for that, John the Baptist cleared it up for us. He said that you make way for Jesus by repenting. To repent means to change your mind resulting in a change of behavior. More than just being sorry or regretful, it is a change of allegiances. If you want to personally know the Son of God, you start by coming over to his side and living you life his way.

I hope you’ll join us each week of “His Story.” If you missed Sunday’s message, you can view it here:

The Birth of Hope

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Sunday we started a brand new series called His Story. It’s somewhat of a follow from last year’s “The Story” series. His Story is all about the life of Jesus. Together we’re journeying through the chronology of Jesus Christ, one story at a time.

Pretty quickly into this story we find that God is working behind the scenes and has been for a long time. Prophecies are fulfilled. World powers set the stage. God orchestrates history to accomplish his purposes. “When the right time came” (Galatians 4:4) Jesus inserted himself into history. He lowered himself into the “lower story” to accomplish God’s “upper story” purposes. It was truly the birth of hope.

After Jesus was born, we have limited detail about his childhood. Luke records one story of Jesus at age twelve at the temple. But in that story the question “is the boy like the man” is answered. Jesus, the Son of God, knew who his father was and what his life was dedicated to. “I must be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). Jesus announced that his story would accomplish God’s purposes.

I hope you’ll join us each week of “His Story” as we get to know Jesus as we’ve never know him before. If you missed Sunday’s message, you can view it here:

Room to Breathe with your Money

Breathe

This past weekend we finished our Room to Breathe series. Room to breathe is the space between you and your limits. We all have them (limits). We just like to constantly push them; to go right up to the edge. We’re guilty of doing it with our time. We’re often guilty of doing it with our money. But life is so much better when there’s room to breathe.

Part of the problem is that we’ve been told that if you raise your standard of living you will raise your quality of life. But many of you know from experience that’s not the case because right now you’re enjoying the highest standard of living ever but you’re not enjoying life. The truth is they’re not equal and in fact creating some room to breathe may require you to lower your standard of living but will raise your quality of life.

When you believe the two lies “I need to adjust my lifestyle to keep up with my income” and “If I had just a little more than I would be fine” and thus don’t allow some room to breathe in your finances, you become a slave to money. Money can be a great tool, but it makes a terrible master. Jesus taught us in Luke 16, “You can’t serve two masters…no one can serve both God and money.”

Maybe it’s time to come away from the edge and quit pushing the limits financially. Create some room to breathe. It may lower your standard of living but will raise your quality of life. Life is better when there’s room to breathe.

If you missed Sunday’s message you can view it here:

Room to Breathe in your Schedule

Breathe

We’ve been in a series recently called, Room to Breathe. We defined room to breathe as the space between you and your limits. It’s fitting for us to talk about allowing and even creating that space because we live in a culture that encourages us to “push the limits” and “get the most out of life.” What we’ve said repeatedly is that in your effort to get the most out of life don’t lose control of your life.

Moses certainly had a unique perspective on time. He lived longer than most. He watched the clock move slowly as a shepherd. He watched it race away as the leader of a great nation. In Psalm 90:12 he summarized his experience this way, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” In other words, simply remembering that our time is limited provides us with the wisdom to know how to spend our limited time. If we forget our days are numbered, our schedule fills up with whatever we want at the time (or in some cases what others want). But if we remember our days are numbered, it helps us to know what to take out and what to put in. Your time is limited so you have to limit how you spend your time.

If you missed Sunday’s message, you can view it here:

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