Go read this weeks devotional.
New weekly devo up on the church website. Go check it out.
I wrote a devo fot the church website this week, check it out.
I know that I’ve been,
Given more than beyond measure,
I come alive when,
I see beyond my fears
I know that I’ve been given more than earthly treasure,
I come alive when
I’ve broken down and given you control
This is the Chorus from Beyond Measure by Jeremy Camp.
This rings so true to me this past weekend, what a weekend! It started friday afternoon as I drove a 15 passenger van full of guys down to Belen, NM for a men’s conference. I felt a little odd heading up the trip as I was not only the youngest guy on the trip, but it was also my first men’s conference, I have always had to work or have been out-of-town in years past. I am so glad I didn’t miss this year. The crew ranged from me at 25 to a sweet Saint; Augie at 82 years old. The speakers were great, (Mike McIntosh, Pancho Juarez) the worship was stellar (Charlie Hall) but that doesn’t speak to the friendships that were cultivated and the lives that were blessed on this trip. God has placed a few men in my life recently that bless my life so much, one guy who has just really come to know the Lord. He was raised in a religious home walked away from the church when a pastor wouldn’t shake his hand because of the way he was dressed and the earring in his ear, his zeal for the Lord and passion for the Bible make me all giddy inside and remind me what I live for, and how good the God I serve truly is. Another guy recently came out of the Jehovah Witness church, his eyes have been truly opened for the for the first time, and he has been given freedom from all the chains and bondage that religion wraps people in. I am blessed beyond measure to have relationships with these guys, the fact that God would save me from my sin blows my mind, let alone let me by his grace; possibly even teach others, this is absolutely incredible. Mike McIntosh put it like this; “We should be in awe of the Lord and the fact that He would even talk to us let alone give us an assignment!” Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I so quickly forget that my life is truly blessed and the Lord has given me more than beyond measure. So whether life finds you on a mountain top or in the deepest darkest valley, remember to look at your life from the perspective; that everything in our lives other than death and hell is a blessing from above, the Lord has truly dealt mercifully with us!
Last Sunday was the 10 year anniversary of one of the worst days in America’s recent past. It is a day filled with hate, fear, hurt, anger, remorse among other feelings. It was also the last outdoor summer service for the year, we had planned a Baptism for those who hadn’t been baptized earlier in the summer. There were 3 people that had filled out an application and met with Pastor Andy to go over their testimony and what they would share in front of the congregation. The testimonies were sweet and from the heart, after the three were baptized it was opened up to anyone who felt like they were being called to get baptized; an hour and a half later 28 people had been baptized. The service was incredible the Holy Spirit was moving in the hearts of lots of people and it was awesome to watch those that weren’t being baptized come around those who were, praying for them, crying with them and just being a family. This morning was an incredible growing experience for our church, and as I was up above taking some shots of the spectacle, I was hit with what a beautiful picture of God’s ability to redeem anything, even a day like September 11th. Just like he takes our broken, wicked, undeserving lives and redeems them through the work of the Cross. For 28 people and many others who witnessed this special time, this day will no longer be remembered in dispair or sadness but instead with joy and love.
“Behold, I am making all things new.”
If you’re anything like me, you tend to be a very Religious person, and this isn’t a good thing! Now some people will say, “wait I thought it was good to be religious and others will say I am not religious at all. The fact is whether you are an atheist, Christian or devout Muslim you are a very religious person, and Martin Luther was correct when he said that, “Religion is the default mode of the human heart.” Religion is simply making our own rules and then attempting to keep them which obviously makes us better than the people who don’t keep these rules; the funny thing is the rules that we choose to make “important” are things that we happen to be good at doing. For example the couple with 12 kids looks down on anyone that has less than 8 kids, or the family that home schools and knows that there is no other “holy” way to do it, or the mom that has her children naturally which makes her more like Jesus because she understands the pain of the cross, or how about the parents that read a book on parenting and now go about telling everyone else how to fix their children! These are just a few of the religious tendencies found in the church, but there are plenty of examples outside of the church as well, take for example the guy that bikes to work and never uses plastic products and looks at disgust at anyone that drives an SUV, or the vegan girl who believes everyone that anyone that eats meat is a murderer, the examples are endless. The scariest thing about these tendencies is the fact that the Bible teaches the religious people in Jesus’ day not only constantly fought with Jesus they also got so fed up with the fact that Jesus wouldn’t keep their ridiculous rules that they falsely accused Him then proceeded to murder Him. Jesus said things like; “These people draw near to me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Mt. 15:8; “Woe to you Pharisees, hypocrites… you make him twice the son of hell you yourselves are.” Mt. 23:15; these are jarring statements coming from God on earth. Try harder, do better, keep all the rules and maybe just maybe when you die your good will outweigh your bad, this is the foundation of all world religions. Buddhism , Judaism, Mormonism, Catholicism all have the same this philosophy at their core. Religion has only two outcomes; it either results in proud self-righteous hypocrites or in broken lives that have no hope because they can’t keep the rules. Christianity alone says you do nothing to deserve salvation God alone is the One who saves, Christianity says Jesus came to the earth to die for our sins and believing in Him by faith is the only way to be found righteous in the sight of God. So the next time you impose your rules, and not the Bible’s on other people remember the Pharisees, repent and go to Jesus for there is truly no hope without Him.
Lately I have been really confronted with the fact that all too often I downplay the good news (Gospel) in my own life. I can tend to think; the gospel is for the world, the gospel is for the unbeliever, or even the gospel is for people new to the Christian faith. Now the the truth is that the gospel is for all those people, but the gospel is also for me and those that have been christians for years. The reason christians begin to think that the gospel is no longer for us, is due to a misconception of what the gospel truly is and what it does for us. The first thing I do that lessens the power of the gospel is to view it as a moral story that tells me how to live my life, and a list of do’s an do not’s that if I keep these rules I will be a “good person”. The second thing I do that downplays the importance of the Gospel is to compare myself to other people, then through this I begin to believe that “I’m a pretty good person compared to others.” The problem with both of these tendancies is the fact that when I begin to believe that I am a good person then the “Good News of the Gospel becomes just the news of the gospel.” To quote my daughters favorite bedtime book; “The Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what He has done.” (JSB) You see the Gospel is the fact that You and I are both sinful beings; and in and of ourselves there is nothing we can do to become Good People. Romans says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God,” it also says “the wages or result of sin is death.” So as we read the Bible we begin to realize there are no good people just a good God, at this point some people will be offended and ask what about, Noah, or Abraham, or David, or Peter, and what about Paul? To this I will answer with a few stolen lines from a pastor I really admire; Noah really; he became a drunk exabitionist, Abraham pimped out his wife twice! thats atleast one too many times, David impregnated a guys wife then murdered him to cover it up, Peter denied Jesus and later became racist, Paul Killed Christians!” The Bible is not a book about heroes, its a book about bad, evil people that God chooses to love inspite of the depravity of their hearts. We need to become very aware of the depravity of our own hearts, because as we realize how bad we truly are the Gospel goes from “just news to really really Good News.” The really really Good News that God came to earth as the man Chirst Jesus, and lived the perfect life we could not live, died the death we could not die and rose from the grave and lives today as our Savior, Lord and King.