Archive for the 'Jesus' Category

His Story – Jesus is Alive

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We had a great Easter with a total of 1270 people attending at our three campuses. I appreciate all the volunteers that facilitated the increase. Thank you for going the extra mile. My thanks to those who shared, by video, how the empty tomb had changed their lives. That was a great testimony of God’s faithfulness.

I love talking about the resurrection of Jesus. You might think that after hearing the story all my life and teaching it for 25 plus years that it could be a little routine. I suppose there is always that danger for us church-lifers. But for me, it seems like every year I learn something new about what that empty tomb means.

If Jesus could accurately predict his death and resurrection. And then actually pull it off…! Then it’s really no problem for me to believe him when he calls himself the Son of God. Or tells me that he is the only way to God. Because of the empty tomb, it’s no problem for me to believe that what he says about life is true. While it may seem counter-intuitive to seek generosity over receiving, serving as the way to greatness, forgiving people who have offended me, etc. None of those are any more incredible to believe than a resurrection. And so Jesus becomes the only one qualified to talk about life after death, because he experienced it and conquered death. When Jesus tells us that he is the resurrection and the life and that if we believe in him we’ll live forever, because of the empty tomb that promise is authenticated and guaranteed.

The resurrection is personal. It was the resurrection that sent those early followers into the streets. What set them apart was they believed that Jesus had risen from the death. And they had seen him and touched him and eaten with him. And within a couple hundred years the very empire that had executed Jesus and persecuted the early followers found that Christianity had become their primary belief system. Amazing! The question remaining? What does the empty tomb mean to you?

If you missed the Easter Sunday message, Jesus is Alive, you can view it 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:

What Do You Do With Jesus? 4

I preached this morning from Luke 23 on the crucifixion of Jesus. I called it “The Roman Centurion Crucified Him.” Here are the main points.

1. The centurion was involved in Jesus’ crucifixion.
And you and I were involved too, because our sins were represented there.

2. The centurion was outspoken about Jesus’ crucifixion.
With much to lose, he unashamedly confessed, “Surely this man is the Son of God!”

3. The centurion was changed because of Jesus’ crucifixion.
In fact, because of the cross we all are changed – our eternal destiny has been arranged.

Whether that Roman Centurion became a true disciple or not, we really don’t know. But regardless, what I like about him is that he didn’t have to be encouraged to be a bold witness for Christ. No need for classes on “Sharing the Faith.” No encouraging sermons on evangelism. He didn’t have to be reminded (as most of us Christians do) to engage in coversations about spiritual things. He simply witnessed the sacrificial, voluntary act of a loving God and his confession (“Surely this man is the Son of God”) poured out of him. It was a reality to him that was naturally expressed.

Maybe we spend too much time in church encouraging the expressions of faith (our behaviors), when instead if we concentrated on the realities of faith (our beliefs), the expressions would be a natural outpouring. Just wondering???

What Do You Do With Jesus? 3

Today’s message title was “Pilate Condemned Him” from Luke 23. I talked about three mistakes Pilate made from which we can hopefully learn.

1. Pilate limited his options because of past mistakes.

2. Pilate avoided making a decision about Jesus.

3. Pilate yielded to the pressure of others.

If you listened to the sermon and have a question or comment, let me know.

What Do You Do With Jesus? 2

Sunday’s sermon was on Peter’s denial of Jesus. Here’s the outline. Feel free to post a comment or question.

Here are the realities of being a disciple.
1. Sometimes our talk is bigger than our walk.
2. Sometimes our desires are greater than our capacity.
3. Sometimes our temptation is stronger than our expectations. 1 Corinthians 10:12

How did Peter end up here?
1. He didn’t take Jesus’ warning seriously.
2. He didn’t follow Jesus’ advice to pray.
3. He didn’t abide by Jesus’ wishes.

Lessons from Peter
1. Though we might disown Christ, He doesn’t abandon us. Romans 8:38-39
2. True disciples move from remorse to repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:9
3. Follow Jesus unashamedly. Matthew 10:32

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