Thursday, October 18, 2007

1 Peter Part VI-Who's the Boss?

1 Peter 2:13-25

Authority. Sometimes we like it. Sometimes we don't. How do you often view authority? Are you typically submissive to the authority around you: parents, teachers, pastors, police officers, crossing guards, bosses, coaches, referees, and principals?

In Part V we talked about how as living stones and followers of Chrsit we are people of privilege: we have the privilage of a special inheritance, the priviege of immediate and constant access, the privilege of true perfection, and the privilege of an infinite owner. This privilege also has a purpose: to proclaim the excellencies of God who has led us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

Unfortunately, people of privilege often think they can do whatever they want. This should not be so with us. Peter address this attitude in vv 13-25.
Think about these questions for a minute:
What are some reasons you are obedient to authority?
What are some reasons you are not obedient to authority?
Peter gives us three biblical reasons we submit ourselves to governing authorities in vv 13-15.
1. For the Lord's Sake-You've heard people say the phrase "for God's sake" referring to many different things before. Peter is literally saying, for the sake of the kingdom of God, listen and obey authority.
2. God has put them in their position for a purpose-We also see this in Romans 13:1. That purpose is to punish evil and to praise good.
3. People will not be able to speak against you-Remember the context that Peter is writing in. Nero's persecution of the Christians is about to start. One reason for the persecution is the perception that Christians are rebellious toward authority. If the Christians will respect the authority placed over them, this argument against them will be silenced.
Here are 3 truths that come from the reasons we submit to authority:
Truth 1: Honoring the king benefits the Kingdom. (v13) Notice the little "k" and the big "K" here. When we honor earthly authority, we benefit God's heavenly Kingdom.
Truth 2: Rulers have a righteous purpose. (v14) Do our leaders always live up to this purpose righteously? Of course not! How should we respond when they fail to fulfill the purpose that is given them? Pray for the. Follow them as long as you can without disobeying God. And, please, don't talk bad about them!
Truth 3: Submission & respect muzzle critics. (v15)
But, what if your leaders ask you to do something unbibilical? Is Peter saying we should obey authority without exception?
The first way we can answer this question is by looking at the whole of scripture. We see several stories, including Daniel 6 and Acts 5 where righteous people chose to disobey earthly authority because that authority asked them to disobey God.
God wants us to submit freely to the authority he has placed over us. He does not want us to have the attitude "I answer to a higher authority" as an excuse to do whatever we want. V16 referst to this as using our freedom as a covering for sin.
Truth 4: Free submission is true submission. (v16)
But, when we look at authority, we do have to keep our priorities straight. Verse 17 lays out two areas of priorities: first toward those around us not in authority, and then toward authority.
First, Peter tells us to honor all me and love the brotherhood. We should not let our love for the church and the privileged get in teh way of the purpose of our privilege-the love and rescue of all men.
Second, we need to fear God and honor the king. Show your fear of God by hnoring the king He has put in place, but remember when ther eis a question of who to obey, God comes first!
Truth 5: Fearing God is top priority. (v17)
But, what about when we are treated unfairly by authority? How are we supposed to respond then?
Truth 6: The failure of men to rule responsibly does not excuse you from honoring them. (v18-19)
Truth 7: God is pleased when His people respond to injustice with honor and perseverance. (v20)
You might be saying, "but that's too hard to do. How am I supposed to stay encouraged to bear up under that pressure?" Check out v21-25!
Truth 8: Jesus is the perfect example (v21-22)
Truth 9: The righteous judge is still in control and worthy of trust. (v23-25)
This is the big picture! Respect authority that God has placed over you on earth so that no one can speak against your God. Regardless of how you are treated and what you suffer, follow the example of Jesus by entrusting yourself to the one who judges righteously!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

1 Peter Part V-Coming out of the...Cave

1 Peter 2:9-12

Refer to "The Cave" for an allegory of this passage from 1 Peter

Truths from 1 Peter 2:9-12

1. Christians are People of Privilege (v9)
-What privilege? The Privilege of a Special Inheritance; The Privilege of Immediated & Constant Access; The Privilege of True Perfection; The Privilege of an Infinite Owner

2. Privilege has a Purpose (v9)
-To proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

3. Those in darkness have no true identity (v10)

4. True identity is found in God (v10)

5. Darkness is a place without mercy (v10)

6. God's marvelous light is full of mercy (v10)

7: Sin is not natural for those called into His marvelous light (v11)
-The fleshly lusts are not natural for us anymore if our identity is in Christ. When we chase after those lusts, then we are chasing after something tha tis contrary to our nature. If our true identity is in Christ, then our nature is one of perfection. To go back to the cave and participate in the things we used to do in the dark defeast the purpose of the light we carry!

8. Sin attacks the soul (v11)
-Sin is not just a physical thing. It attacks the very foundation of who we are.

9. Our behaviouir has an impact on how others respond to Christ (v12)

If you have Christ as the cornerstone of your life, then you are a child of privilege with a great purpose, so live like it. There are BILLIONS of people still in the darkness of the cave that have never seen the light. Work together to bring the light to the masses lost in darkness and regularly return to the light and bind yourself to others who have been called out of darkness. We need each other. We need our daily (if not hourly) dose of the rays of Jesus.

The Cave

The world I was born into is a cave full of darkness with no source of light visible deep within the cave. There is a light, however, filtering into the cave somewhere high above the depths of our dwellings, and there are those walking around in the darkness of the cave who have once been in the presence of that light. Their past exposure to the light is evidenced by the faint glow coming from their clothes. When asked how they found the light, they say they were called to the light. They say that the light hurt when they first saw it, but it was warm and glorious. If ever three, four or more of them stand together one starts to understand the pain that comes from exposure to the light. The pain is somehow pleasant, though, if endured for long enough.

They say they came back into the cave on a mission, but so many of them have been back in the cave for so long now that the glow from their clothes is almost gone. I know some of them from before they were called to what they describe as a “marvelous light” and they are still the same as they were before, apart from the glow. Every day they spend here in the cave they become more and more like they were before they encountered the light. A few, though, have returned to the source of the light on an almost daily basis, every time returning to the cave brighter than they were before. They can often be seen leading others from the cave to encounter the light.

I have heard that some of the people that have seen the light have established colonies closer to the mouth of the cave. They never return to this part of the cave.

Most of us are happy in the cave. We have grown accustomed to the darkness. In fact, I would say that it is really not dark at all. Those who have been called to the “marvelous light” say the cave actually seems darker to them when they return. If they stay here in the darkness long enough, though, they too agree that it really doesn’t seem that dark.

It seems unnatural to go to the light. Those who return to the light regularly tell me that what is unnatural is living in darkness. They are such a minority that very few listen to them though. The fact that the majority of those who have encountered the light come back to the darkness and stay here until they are exactly the way they were before shows me that darkness is where and who we are supposed to be. I do not believe the pain required to stand in the light is worth it if we all just return to the darkness.

I do fear the darkness at times. The darkness is so unrelenting that I find myself craving some light…even just a little light. And sometimes I feel lost, like I’m missing out on who I am really supposed to be. But most of the time I’m comfortable here, and that is what is most important. At least, it seems to be.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

1 Peter Part IV-iRock

1 Peter 2:4-10

If you were to come to the King of the Lawnmowers, what would you expect to do as his subject? What about the King of Chickens or the King of Jumping Jacks? I think we would all (and all probably do at one time or another) come to the King of Laziness and bow down before his as loyal subjects.

But, what about Christ? He has called us to himself as King, and when we come to Him as King we become "little Christ's" who please him by obeying His word. Remember his expectation...holiness, and his provision to meet that expectation, the Spirit an the Word.

But, how do we please God? What happens when we accept him, and what are the results of rejecting Him and His Word?

Define the word Precious.

Go ahead...try and define it...

Here's a definition for you: Cherished. Characterized by feeling or showing fond affecton for.

What is precious to you? Maybe your family, your pet, a favorite blanket or book. Will what is precious to you always be precious to other people too? Probably not because we do not all hold affection for the same things. Do you think the things that are precious to you are precious to God?

To answer that last question, you have to ask the question, "What is precious to God?" Peter answers that question for us in 1 Peter 2:4. The living stone is precious to God. Who is the living stone? Jesus! Read what else it says: "rejected by men." So...

Truth 1: What is precious to God is not always precious to man.

We often reject Christ even though he is "it". He is the One we've been looking for! He is a LIVING stone. Jesus is alive! He is someone unique, choice and precious. Since he is something unique we should respond to him differently than we respond to the people we see every day. Remember the respect and awe of worship and praise that comes from a heart of gratitude for the holiness of God? Jesus is alive. He's choice. He's precious. Receive him as precious.

In verse 5, those who come to Christ are compared to living stones, just like Christ is in verse 4. We are made alive when we come to Christ. Where does that life come from? CHRIST!

Truth 2: Life comes from life. We are made alive by the life of Christ.

These living stones are not going about life on their own, they are coming together to be built up into a spiritual house and temple of God.

Truth 3: You are God's House!

Not only are the little stones built together, they are built together for a purpose. This purpose (to be a holy priesthood to make acceptable sacrifice to God-v6) cannot be attained as an individual. The living stones (us) need to be in fellowship and communion with other living stones. For the sacrifices of our life to be acceptable, however, we have to remember the expectation of God for our lives in chapter one-holiness! Holiness is made possible by the Word of God, the cornerstone Jesus Christ.

Truth 4: Holiness is an essential element of an acceptable sacrifice (v5)
Truth 5: The only acceptable worhsip is through Jesus (v5)

Why is this worship acceptable? Because Jesus is PRECIOUS to God and his is the CORNERSTONE of faith. Because God has CHOSEN Jesus to be the foundation of worship. All other worship is an abomination before God. So, make sure your worship is directed appropirately.

There is great benefit to building our lives and our worhsip on the cornerstone, Jesus.

Truth 6: If you build on Jesus, you will not have your hopes dashed. (v6)

However, not building on Jesus and rejecting him as the cornerstone has unfavorable consequences. Verse 7-8 are clear that those who reject Jesus as the cornerstone stumble and are offended, disobedient to the word, and appointed to doom.

But Jesus IS the cornerstone. Just because someone rejects Jesus doesn't change the reality that He is still the chief cornerstone, it just changes how someone relates to Him. Instead of great hope, there is appointed doom.

Truth 7: Man's rejection doesn't change the reality of Jesus (v7)

But God has rescued us! We don't have to stumble around in disobedience and doom. He has called us out of darkness, so let's come to the cornerstone as little stones in worship of the foundation of true faith.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

1 Peter Part III: Unrealistic Expectations?

1 Peter 1:14-2:3

Our world is full of relationships, and these relationship carry certain expectations and responses. There are also certain necessities that need to e in place for the relational responses to meet the expectations. For example, the public expects teh police to respond to a 911 call. For this expectation to be met, the police need to have acces to the call, maps, and cars.

Sometimes the expectations in a relationship can be unrealistic. Expectations usually seem unrealistic in a relationhip when the tools are not in lace to live up to the expectation.

Remember that the faith that guards salvation stays true and pure, and if this is the faith that is in us, then God has certain expectations of what that faith will produce in us. Let's look at our relationship with God, what he expets from us, how we should respond to Him, and whether he provides what is necessary for us to respond properly.

Expectations:

In 1 Peter 1:14-16 we find that God expects obedient children to have a change of behavior tha tleads to holiness. For a change of behavior to lead to holiness, it has to involve a change of heart. This obedience leading to holiness is expected by God to be total and absolute. There can be no compartmentalizing of holiness. Holiness that is not 100% is not holiness at all.

You might ask, "How can God expect this of us. It just seems unrealistic."

Well, God is Holy...he is perfect, and he has given us the necessary tools to live in holiness. It is a process (sanctification) but it is one that leads to perfection.

Truths from vv14-16

1. Ignorance is not a valid excuse (v14)
2. God is perfect (v15)
3. Holiness requires all (v15)
4. Holiness is a command from God (v16)
5. Our holiness is based in Christ's holiness (v16)

Verses 17-21 are address to Christians who truly see God as their father. This Father, God, is characterized as the One, the only one, who impartially judges. One response we have to that characteristic of God is fear. So, one response we should have to this expectation of holiness is a response of fear. The second response we should have toward this expectation of holiness is appreciation and worship for the price that was paid for our salvation and sanctification.

Unfortunately we rarely respond with fear, respect, and appreciation. More often we respond with disrespect and an attitude that cheapens grace. We say, "well, I'm saved, so my future sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, so it's ok if I slip up and sin this one time." We cheapen the gift of grace by continually sinning and not living in fear of the judge who wants us to be holy.

We have forgotten the ugliness of what happened on the cross. The cross is not a clean cross covered in gold and hung on a chain or decorated with flowers, it is a bloody cross on which the ultimate price was paid. Don't forget the ugliness of the cross. Don't cheapen the price that was paid for you by your sin.

Truths from vv 17-21

1. Judgment is real (v17)
2. Fear is an acceptable reaction towards God (v17)
3. Our redemption was costly (v18-19)
4. Christ's appearance was for you (v20)
5. Christ's death and resurrection direct our faith and hope to the right place. (v21)

So, if God expects holiness from us, and expects us to respond to that expectation with fear, respect, and worship, what tool(s) has he given us to meet those expectations?

According to verse 22, obedience to the Truth purifies our souls. A purified soul is a holy soul, and the Truth is found in the Word of God. So, the Word of God is the tool that God has given us to live up to the expectations he has placed on us. One great thing about the Word of God is that it is not just an old book. Verses 23 and 25 characterize it as living and abiding. The Holy Spirit wakes up the Word of God in our hearts, minds and lives spurring us on to holiness. The Word will endure forever, unlike the self-help advice that clogs our bookshelves and tv screens.

Truths from 1:22-2:3

1. Obedience=purity and purity=obedience
2. The Word of God is internally and eternally active (v23, 25)
3. The Word of God is nourishing (2:2)

Long for the pure milk of the Word! If you don't know the Word, then you can't expect to live in holiness. God has a REALISTIC expectation of holiness in us because he has given us His Word!

Element 07 Recap


Wow, what an awesome weekend of worship, fellowship and bible study! I know I had a blast, and from what I hear, you guys did too! Enjoy these pictures and get ready for Element 08! Remember, stay in the word, all the time, and see what amazing things God does with your life!

1 Peter Part II:The Guardian

1 Peter 1:3-13

In part one of this series in 1 Peter, we talked abou the providing, producing, and protecting of salvation. Now, let's move on to what Peter calls the Hope and the Guardian of Salvation.

The Hope of Salvation:

Truth 1: The merciful gift of a second chance is the Hope of Salvation (v3)
Truth 2: The Hope of Salvation is based in life. (v3)
Truth 3: A perfect inheritance is the Hope of Salvation

The Guardian of Salvation:

Truth 4: Faith tis the Guardian of Salvation (v5)

What does this faith look like?

The Faith that Guards Salvation...

1. Rejoices even in the face of trials (v6)
2. Stays True and Pure (v7)
3. Praises, glories, and honors the coming of Jesus (v7)
4. Lvoes what is not seen (v8)
5. Beleives what is not seen (v8)
6. Responds with Joy and Excitement (v8)
John MacArthur says, "Genuine faith and ture joy belong together." (Commetary on 1 Peter, Page 39).

If your faith does not look like this, then it is time to examine your salvation. These are evidence of true faith, the faith that guards salvation.

So, what's our job with regard to this faith?

God revealed to the prophets the Truth about the coming of Jesus, how he would live and die, and what he would mean for mankind. They know they would not see Him, but htey still loved, believed, and rejoiced in the reality of Christ with faith that led to their salvation. Everything they wrote and said was for our benefit. Their love of Christ has brought the Truth of Chrsit to us so that we can believe. We also hav eth ebenefit of the help of the Holy Spirit.

The Truth about Chrsit was passed down from the prophets to the New Testament believers, and has now been passed on to us. Who are you passing it on to? It's our turn! Get your head on straight and get ready for action. Set your hope in the right place, not on this earth and on things that are only a shadow of the reality of our true, perfect inheritance!

1 Peter Part I: The Who, the How, and the Why

1 Peter 1:1-2

Let's start this study of 1 Peter with a look at some of the background and the salutation of Peter's letter to the scattered church.

Who Wrote 1 Peter? the Apostle Peter

When was 1 Peter Written? Probably around 64 AD, right before the Neronic persecution of the Christians started.

Who was 1 Peter written to? Churches and believers in what is today Turkey

Wy was 1 Peter written? To encourage the church to stand firm in the True grace of God in the face of escalating persecution and suffering (MacArthur's commentary on 1 Peter, Page 10)

An important thing to remember is the extent of the Neronic Persecution. Nero was emperor of the Roman Empire, and the people of Rome were a bit sceptical of this new Christian faith that they knew little to nothing about. The Christians had things called "love feasts", they shared everything, and they refused to pay tribute to the Emperor as divine. When a good chunk of Rome burned and many people began to blame Nero for causing it to burn, Nero turned their anger toward the Christians. Christians were thrown to wild dogs to be eaten and were covered in wax and staked into the ground to be set on fire and used to light Nero's garden. This is what the church in the Roman Empire was getting ready to face, and Peter's letter comes just at the right time with a message that they needed ot hear.

Truth: God is always on time wiht meeting the needs of his people!

When Peter starts his letter, he packs a lot of depth into his greeting. He doesn't just say, "hey guys, it's Peter, hope ya'll are doing well." He goes deep in the first 2 verses of this book. Peter ties the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to Salvation, defining each of their roles, and also tells us the who, how, and why of salvation.

He first tells us that our election and salvation are according to the forknowledge of God. This means that the Father initiates salvation. We, as humans, do not first come to God, he draws us to himself.

The Father is the WHO of salvation. He is the one doing the drawing and the saving.

Peter then explains that our salvation is by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit produces and protects salvation (cf Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; Rev 9:3-4). The Holy Spirit leads us to holiness.

The Spirit working in us for holiness is the HOW of salvation.

Peter finally says that we are saved so that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood. This means that the Son provides salvation through His blood. Salvation is not meant to be a one time event that then makes no impact on our daily lives...there is expected obedient that comes with being chosen.

Obedience to the Son and the cleansing power of His blood is the WHY of salvation.

Why is this important enough to put at the beginning of his letter?

If we have been drawns to salvation by the Father, if we are being sanctified by the Spirit and living in obedience to the Son by the power of His blood, then we can have the grace and peace to its fullest measure.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Element 07


Element 07 Discipleship weekend September 21-23.

The cost of the full weekend of Element is now only $35!!! Don't miss out on this weekend! Turn in your money THIS WEEK!!!
Check out www.elementva.com for band details and more info!

300 (Part 2)

Flood Zone Recap
September 3, 2007

You may have always heard that there is power in numbers. But is there really power in numbers?

Remember Gideon? He has been chosen by God to battle and drive out the Midianites, so he rounds up his army. This army that he puts together totals 32,000 men. The army that they are fighting (the Midianites and Amelakites) is so numerous that they look like locusts on the valley shore, numbering like the sands on the sea shore, with camels too numerous to count. So, 32,000 versus A LOT. But for God, fighting with 32,000 just isn't fair, for the Midianites. God decides that 32,000 warriors is WAY too many and wants to lower the number to show His power in the battle.

So God takes the number down to 300.

300! Remember how many they are fighting...we can't even count them they are so many!!! And God wants to fight with 300!

Why did he choose 300? There are 3 reasons why he chose these 300 men:

1. They were not afraid (Judges 7:2-3). There is no room for fear in the battle for Truth. 22,000 of the men were afraid, so Gideon sent them home.

2. They were vigilant (Judges 7:4-6). Only 300 of the men paid attention to what was around them while drinking out of the stream. They understood that they wouldn't be able to see the enemy if they weren't looking for him.

3. So that God, not man, would receive glory for the victory. (Judges 7:7) The battle may have seemed too easy for 32,000, and they men might have thought that it was their power that won the battle. With only 300, however, there is no mistaking who won teh battle...God!

So, now we know why the 300 were chosen, and we know the task before Gideon is a HUGE one, and we know that God is the one who has sent Gideon on that task, so what will the outcome be? How did God equip Gideon and how does God equip us to finish the task?

1. God gave Gideon boldness (Judges 7:9-14)

2. God gave Gideon a plan of attack (Judges 7:15-18)

3. God always wins (Judges 7:19-25)

Do you trust tha twhen God wants to use you he will protect you, give you boldness, give you a plan of attack and will always win? Do you trust tha the knows what he is doing? Do you trust Him more than you trust yourself or your friends?

The battle may seem impossible, but God always wins!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

300 (Part 1)

Flood Zone Recap
August 26, 2007

Do you know who invented the microwave oven? What about the cell phone? What about toothpaste? Are you appreciative of what they did in the past? Are you affected in any way by what they did in the past?

(if you are curious about the impact of toothepaste on your life, just thank Dr. W.W. Sheffield you don't look like this:



See, what you do now impacts the future. (Definition: Future-Any point after right now (so, that could be 15 seconds from now, 15 minutes, tomorrow, next month, or even 25 years from now...you know...the FUTURE!)

Let's think about that for a minute: Does what I do and who I am now affect the future, and how?

1. The amount you focus on your school work NOW (either a lot or a little), will impact your grades in the future (either positively or negativly).
2. The practice you put into playing an instrument now will affect your ability to play in the future.
3. Your obedience or disobedience to your parents now will impact their trust of you and your freedom in the future.


So, it is clear that the way we live and who we are NOW affect the future. If it hadn't been for those pioneering men in the past 150 years, we may be without the advanced technology we have today. What they chose to do then has impacted no only their life, but millions of lives.


What about in your relationship with God? Can what you do and who you are NOW affect how God can use you in the future? Does God even WANT to use you? I would say that YES, God definitely wants to use you. 1 Timothy 4:12 is an encouragement to live as an example to other believers of what being like Christ is all about. So, will he use YOU though?


What type of person does God use? Let's look at the first half of the story of Gideon in Judges 6. I think we will find 6 characteristics that Gideon displayed that God may be looking for in you so that he can use you to impact the NOW and LATER!


A little background: Israel was being oppressed by the Midianites because of their sin (sin brings conflict...just a little something you should remember). They finally cry out to God and God IMMEDIATELY responds to them and reminds them that he has rescued them in the past, and he'll do it again...if they obey. Then, he appears to Gideon. So let's see why he chose Gideon:


1. Gideon was already at work against the enemy of God and Israel (Judges 6:11).
-Gideon was beating out some wheat in the wine press to keep it away from the Midianites. He was already struggling against the enemy that God would have him fight. He was already working behind the scenes in his everyday life, doing what he knew he should be doing. In other words, he was well-directed in his daily activities before God even called him. What about you? Are you well-directed in your daily activities, working behind the scenes already doing what you know God would want you to do?


2. Gideon recognized the Problem: the People were Separated from God. (Judges 6:13)
-He knew the problem was that the people had abandoned God's law and so God had left them to captivity. He knew that relationship needed to be restored. We are living in a world that has abandoned God. Do you even care? Do you see the sin around you and desire to see the lost AND the church surrendered to God?


3. Gideon was Humble (Judges 6:14-16)
-Gideon was the youngest in the smallest family in their area. They didn't have much and he wasn't a big shot, and he knew it. If you think of yourself to highly, God is not going to be able to use you, because YOU will get in the way of HIM. In the grand scheme of things, Gideon knew he was really nothing apart from God.


4. Gideon was Willing to Sacrifice and Serve (Judges 6:17-20)
-Preparing a kid and baking the cakes was not necessarily an easy task. Gideon was ready to serve (in this case to confirm God's call which we'll look at in number 6). Gideon takes the time to sacrifice some of his own goods (remember...small poor family in the midst of a seige where he is hiding grain in a wine press). What are you willing to sacrifice? God can only use you if you are willing to put in the work and give up YOUR life for HIS life for you.


5. Gideon was willing to Start with Himself and His House (Judges 6:25-32)
-Gideon tore down the Baal and Asherah, built and altar to God and sacrificed a bull with the wood from the Asherah to God. He was willing to clean out his house first. Are you willing to let God clean you out? If not, he won't be able to use you.


6. Gideon confirmed God's Call (Judges 6:17, 36-40)
-We are blessed to have the Bible, the Holy Spirit and a great community of believers in H2O and at Water's Edge through whom we can confirm God's call in our life. That is one of the purposes of the church and the Word, to help each other know how God wants to use us. Gideon was not so blessed. He did, however, see the importance of confirming that this new and CRAZY direction for his life was from God and not from something else. He wanted to make sure that he was doing EXACTLY what God wanted him to do. How often do you take council in the Bible or the church for the direction of your life? Are you sure you are involved in the activities God wants you involved in? If you get involved in the wrong place, you may forfeit the opportunity that God has for you.


What you do now DEFINITELY affects how God wil luse you in the future. Not following God now wil lnot necessarily keep him from using you in the future (although it may), the future will just be further away.


So, be encouraged in this:


DON'T WASTE THESE YEARS!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Knowledge

WNBS Recap
August 15, 2007
Characteristics the World Needs to See in Christians

Rate your knowledge of these subjects on a scale of 1 to 10 (one being no knowledge and 10 being deep, intimate knowledge)

The X-Men
Makeup
Guitar Playing
Preparing Spaghetti
Traffic Laws
Cold Fusion
Putting on Pantyhose
Small Engine Repair
Snake Wrangling
Picking up Girls

Think about those areas that you rated highly in. More than likely you will rate highly in the knowledge of something if you care about that thing. Here, let me say that another way: We will take time to learn and develop a deep intimate knowledge of that which we care or have a passion about.

Think about your best friend: what they like to eat, their personality, their moods, their character traits, future goals and plans, etc. If this person is truly your best friend, then you will have a deep knowledge about them. Why? Because you care about them!

So, how is your knowledge of God?

I'm not just talking about your knowledge of the facts of the Bible, or knowledge of what God is "like", but how well do you KNOW God? How well do you know his character? How well do you know what he expects and wants? How well do you know the mind of Christ?

Here's your chance to rate your knowledge of God on a scale of 1 to 10. Use the same scale as before. (If you find yourself rating your knowledge of God above a 5, think seriously about it and respond honestly...do you reall KNOW God that well?)

You might be asking: "Why does it matter? Why do I need to 'know God'. If I have accepted Jesus as my savior, I'm going to heaven and that's all that matter."

Have you ever been blindfolded? Have you ever walked into a dark room that you were unfamiliar with? J.I. Packer descirbes life without knowledge of God in much the same way in his book, Knowing God:

"There is an assumption among many Christians that a study of the nature and character of God will be impractical and irrelevant for life. In fact, howerver, it is the most pratcial project anyone can engage in...if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it [then] the world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business."

"But", you might ask, "how do I know God?" The following 5 truths of how to know God are from Knowing God by J.I. Packer:

1. The Word: God has spoken to man, and the Bible is His Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation.

2. The World: God is the Lord and King over his world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfection in al lthat he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him.

3. The Rescued: God is savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Chrsit to rescue believers from the guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly.

4. The Active Presence of God: God is triune; ther are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the father purposing redemption, the son securing it and the Spirit applying it.

5. The Obedient: Godliness means responding to God's revelation in trust and obedience, fath and worship, prayer and parise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God's word. This, and nothing else, is true religion.

Once you understand the importance of knowing God and have the basic steps to knowing God, you need to return and examing that relationship. Packer also gives 4 Evidences of Knowing God, or 4 measuring sticks of the relationship.

1. Those who know God have great ENERGY for God. (Daniel 11:31-32)
2. Those who know God have great THOUGHTS of God. (Daniel 2:20-22)
3. Those who know God show great BOLDNESS for God (Daniel 3:8-16)
4. Those who know God have great CONTENTMENT in God. (Daniel 3:16-18)

How are you measuring up? Do you have a passion to know God? Would you ever expect someone to follow Jesus as a result of your life if you don't even know the God that you claim to be following?

Spend time this week getting to know God a little better. Dig into his Word and look for charateristics of his nature appearing in your everyday life. See how who he is applist to what you are and how you live.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What If...?

Flood Zone Recap
August 12, 2007

I know, I know...you don't want to hear it, but you can't deny it! School is starting SOON (if it hasn't already started for you). Yes, I used the "s" word. And I use it without apology. In fact, I'll say it again...

SCHOOL is Here...

and I bet there are a hundred questions running through your mind:

What will I wear the first day?
Who will be in my classes?
Will I like my new teachers?
Will I make any new friends this year?
Will I like high school?
What locker number will I have?
Will I remember the combination?

All of these questions are great and important (kind of), but what about the big questions? Have these questions crossed your mind as you prepare for a new school year?

What do I want to see God do at my school this year?
What do I want to see God do in MY life during this school year?

Take a minute to think about those questions. What do you want to see God do this year?

Have you even though that God might have specific plans and desires for you and your school this year? Have you even though about the POSSIBILITIES of what God COULD do this school year?

Check out Jeremiah 29:10-14. Here's a little background:

The nation of Israel is in captivity because of their refusal to serve the one true God. They keep forgetting God, and they keep paying for it. But, God is not through with them. He still has a plan for them, even though they are in exile.

"For thus says the Lord, 'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,' decleres the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you serach for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, 'and I wiill rstre your fortuness and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declres the Lord, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'"

Maybe you feel like you've been in exile and you haven't been focused on what God wants for your school years. God is saying, "get focused, and I'll do something INCREDIBLE."

Maybe you feel like the only Christian left at your school who actually cares about what God wants. God is saying, "trust me...cry out to me, and you'll see me bring back those other believers into a force of Christians that your school won't have a choice but to notice."

Mabye you feel like your school is so lost, so dark, that God has forgotten and given up on it. God is saying, "don't worry, I haven't forgotten you, I'm just waiting for the right time, and if you're ready to do something big, so am I."

Maybe God is waiting on YOU! No, he doesn't need you to change lives, but he wants to use you! He has a plan, and it involves you!

So, here's another HUGE question:

If you could see God do ANYTHING (and I mean ANYTHING) this year, what would you want it to be? A family member or good friend saved. A bible club started at your school. People flocking to you to ask you how they can have the joy that you have. Teachers sharing their faith in the middle of class. Principals allowing the Gospel to be presented at school assemblies. Parents rescuing their children from years of neglect. The hardest heart and most outspoken person against Christianity broken and weeping because of their sin and need for Jesus. Churches uniting for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Now that something is in your head, think about this next question:

What are YOU willing to do to be a part of that plan and see it happen?

If you want to see revival in your school, family, and community this year, then you have to be willing to do something. Take action. Start praying.

That's where it all begins, with prayer. So, here is the challenge. Over the next 22 days until school starts in Mecklenburg county, pray daily for these 10 things. Then, continue to pray daily for them through the first month of school. And as you see God beginning to answer the prayers, JOIN WITH HIM and do the work of the ministry. Your school needs you. Your family needs you. Your friends need you. DESPERATELY!!!

Praying for Revival in our Schools:

1. Pray against unbelief.
2. Pray for brokeness over sin.
3. Pray for radical obedience.
4. Pray for outspoken believers.
5. Pray for well-guided zeal.
6. Pray for support for revival among teachers and principals.
7. Pray for humility among the proud and popular.
8. Pray for boldness among teachers despite restrictions.
9. Pray that opposition will be silenced.
10. Pray for humility and Christ-likeness among believers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Purity

The Deep End Recap
July 25, 2007
Characterisitics the World needs to See in Christians

2 Corinthains 6:3-6 talks about several characteristics of Paul's ministry that were necessary so that his ministry would not be discredited. One of those characteristics is purity.

Purity is a key characteristic for Christians because without it we have no integrity and really no opportunity for ministry at all. Why should anyone listen to someone calling them to a life of holiness and purity when they themselves are not living a life of purity.

The best illustration of purity I can think of is a white t-shirt, fresh out of the package. It really looks bright and clean, but it doesn't take much for that t-shirt to lose its fresh and clean look. Just one spot of dirt, blood, or steak sauce and it's all over. On a white t-shirt just one little spot is so obvious.

It's the same way with purity. Purity is an all or nothing thing. Yes, you may think of yourself as the "most pure person" you know, but even one dirty spot spoils the purity of the whole thing.

Praise God for Christ whose blood has cleansed us from all unrighteousness. We still make rotten choices, though, and again need to cry out to God for purity in our lives.

So, here is a challenge to be an example (as 1 Timothy 4:12) to other of what a believer is supposed to be in your purity. I'm not just talking about sexual purity, but purity in three areas.

Purity of Heart

Having a pure heart is the foundation of all purity in your life. Without a pure heart, there is no chance for pure actions. Just think about the foundation of your house (if you were here Wednesday night, then you saw mine as we spent time talking about this while sitting the crawl space). Withtout that foundation, your house would not stand.

The problem is, it's real easy to ignore the foundation. How often do you take people under your house to examine the pipes, the wires, and the foundation? How easy is it to hide all the dirt that's under your house? We often just focus on what people see! It's the same way with our lives. We focus so much on getting our actions right, that we forget about the foundation to those actions...the heart!

We need to spend time examining the foundation of our lives and allowing God to fix the cracks. He promises that if we confess our sins he is faithful to forgive us, and he also promises that if we hide his word in our heart, then our foundation will stay sure. Don't ignore the foundation of purity. It's easy to hide and a pain to explore sometimes, but the benefits are immeasurable.

Purity of Actions

Remember, purity is an all or nothing thing. You are either pure or not. But, should that keep us from striving for purity? Absolutely not!

Every choice you make will either lead you closer to purity or impurity. You were created for purity, for good works, and for a worthy lifestyle. May your striving for purity be an example to others of what a beleiver is supposed to be.

Strive for purity in your actions...but remember that it starts in the heart.

Purity of Doctrine

Here is an area that we never think about when we think about purity. Is what you believe about God and the Bible pure? Are your beliefs right? Do you really know what you are talking about when you are trying to explain things to people curious about your faith?

It is very easy to muddy the waters of doctrine. So often we don't understand something in our own minds, so we try to make it more acceptable to our way of thinking. We change the character of God to make it more tangible and less offensive. Well, God's commands are pure and we need to declare them as they are written. We also need to refute bad doctrine when we hear it. Also, if we distort doctrine ourselves, then we lose integrity.

If you know you are distorting doctrine for your own purposes then you are discrediting your ministry. If you don't know the answer to a question, don't make it up but dig into the pure commands of the Word of God for your answers.

As you can see, purity affects every area of life. There are benefits to purity and dangers to impurity. Here are a few of each to wrap up:

The Benefits of Purity

1. Blessing of Righteousness (Psalm 24:3-5)
2. Blessing of Seeing God (Matthew 5:8)
3. Nearness to God (James 4:8)
4. Influence (Proverbs 22:11)

The Dangers of Impurity

1. Inability to Distiguish between good and evil (Titus 1:15)
2. Hardness to the Holy Spirit (Titus 1:15)
3. Actions that deny God and detest God (Titus 1:16)
4. Conflict with God (Genesis 3:7-11)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Enjoy the 4th!

No Bible Study on Wednesday night!!!! Enjoy the 4th and praise God for giving us freedom and allowing us to be born in such a great country!

Monday, June 25, 2007

What a Week!

Wow! What a great week last week was for the H2O Summer of Service! Let me give you a run down of how GREAT it was!

Monday: I was able to participate in an exciting meeting about Element '07. This is going to be an awesome Disciple Now Weekend in September. You guys remember Element '06 in Charlie Gielow's back yard? Well, Element '07 is growing, growing, growing. We will have a full weekend of discipleship worship and concerts right in our own backyard at Occoneechee State Park. Go ahead a mark your calendars for Sept 21-23. You will NOT want to miss this weekend. Check out www.elementva.com for a few more details and keep your eyes pealed for a sign-up sheet to come soon!

Tuesday: A great time of one-on-one discipleship, and then a blast with 2 hours of soccer at Bluestone Middle school. 4 on 4 soccer on a shortened field and a final score of 12-8. It was hot. It was tiring. But, it was fun. Join us again this week at 4:00 at Bluestone Middle for some more soccer action!

Wednesday: As always, The Deep End (Wednesday Night Bible Study). We had 15 students here as we are continuing to study Characteristics the World Needs to See in Christians. This week we studied Well-Placed Shame. Hopefully I will have a recap up soon so you can see what you missed. This Wednesday in The Deep End: Relevance and being a Controversial Christian.

Thursday: An early morning and a great time of service at Lynchburg Daily Bread. What a blessing to be able to serve the homeless and low-income individuals that depend on this Christ centered ministry for their source of food every day. We will be going back, and I want YOU to go!

Friday Morning: Two of us wer able to bless 48 homes in an hour by returning their trash cans from the road. I know, it sounds like a weird ministry, but it WORKS! We've already had one report of someone commenting on how surprised and pleased they were that someone took the time to help them out. If two people can have that much impact in one hour, imagine the impact we will have in blessing this community later this summer when we head out again for this new ministry...any even more people come to help out!!!

Friday Night: The Overflow Band lead in a great time of worship at Camp Kerr Lake for Girl's Weekend. How cool to see a group of H2O students using their talents for the Lord and leading a group of people in worship. I wish I could be there this Friday to see it again during Boy's Week. I'll be praying for ya'll!

Saturday: Mchowlah Adonai (the girls dance team) also had the opportunity to lead in worship for Girl's Week. Again, how awesome to know that a group of H2O students were using their talents for the blessing of others and the blessing and honoring of God!

Sunday: A great morning of worship and a BLAST at Flood Zone. 22 of ya'll came out for fellowship, games and the word. I had a lot of fun Sunday night, and I'm sure you guys did too! Next Sunday we will be talking about the blessings of immediate obedience and patience. It's a good story, so be there for it!

God is definitely honoring and blessing our decision to stay close to home with our ministries during our H2O Summer of Service. I challenge all of you to get involved as much as possible during our upcoming ministries. Check out the announcements post on the blog to see what we're doing next! There are some other possible ministries that may be coming along in a couple of weeks. If you have any ideas, let me know!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thank You!

Thanks to everybody who chipped in with this week's H2O Summer of Service project. The Parent's night out was GREAT and there is no way it would have gone as well, or the kids would have had as much fun if you guys hadn't been there to play with them and help them out. You guys are awesome!!!

I look forward to seeing you all at the rest of our H2O SOS projects!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Would You Rather: Belief vs. Trust

Flood Zone Recap
June 3, 2007

Would you rather:

Eat peanut M&M's or plain M&M's?
Chew used gum under a park bench, or eat a piece of bread out of a trash can?
Swim with sharks or alligators?
Shave your head or dye your hair pink?
Eat a nose booger or an eye booger?
Trust Satan or Trust God?

The quick "church" response is obviously trust God, but do our actions really bare that out? Do we really trust God more than we trust Satan? Are we more willing to run after what God's spirit it telling us to do or what Satan is tempting us to do, in the little things AND the big things?

Let's look at some thing we know about God and about Satan:

God: hears our prayers, provides for our needs, knows our thoughts, thinks about us regularly, cares for us, directs our paths, has a purpose for us, forgives our sins, protects us, created us, is perfect, is all knowing, is all powerful, is ever present, cannot lie. In a nutshell, God is TRUSTWORTHY!

Satan: deceives us, wants to destroy us, wants to steal our joy, wants to kill our witness, tempts us, lies to us, tricks us, hates God. In a nutshell, Satan is NOT TRUSTWORTHY!

So, with all that we say that we believe about God, why don't we trust him more? And with all we say that we believe about Satan, why do we still trust him?

Because so often, belief does not translate into trust. Why? Because Satan is real good at getting us to doubt what we believe about God.

In Genesis 3:1-7 is a story that is familiar to most of us. It is the starting point of the struggle against sin that we fight every day. It is the fall of man into sin. It is the first time that man trusted Satan instead of trusting God. So, how did Satan get man to trust him? By getting man to doubt God. But, what did Satan get Adam and Eve to doubt about God? How does he convince us to doubt God and trust him?

1. Satan attacks our belief about God's goodness. (v1) Satan basically says, "What, God isn't going to provide for your hunger? Look at all these trees, and you can't eat the fruit from them?" While this was a lie, it still starts to bring up this thought: "yeah. Why can't I eat this fruit. If the other fruit is good for me, the why can't I eat this? Is God really a good God if he won't let me eat this tasty looking fruit?"

2. Satan attacks our belief about God's Truth. (v4-5) Satan convinced Eve that God has not been completely honest. That God is holding something back. That God wants to keep them from being all they can be. While we know this isn't true, and we say that we believe God has our best intrests in mind, still we run after what Satan says will make us great in the eyes of man.

See, Satan hasn't changed the core of his tricks. He's still tricking us the same way he tricked Adam and Eve. He's still encouraging us to doubt what we say we believe about God. In that way, he keeps us from living out the trust that we know we need to have in God.

What about you? What belief about God is Satan attacking in your life? How are are you going to fight back? Ephesians 6:16 encourages us to weild the sheild of faith to knock down the arrows of deception that are flying our way.

Trust God fully this week. Don't just say that you believe in Him and what he says he is, but trust it, with your life. Your trust of God will be evident in the way that you live our your beliefs.

Trust God fully and see if he doesn't prove himself GOOD & TRUE!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

It's the End of the World as We Know It, And I Feel...Urgency!

WNBS Recap
Characteristics the World Needs to See in Christians
May 30, 2007

What are you passionate about? Music, sports, cars, girls, good pizza, education, being a doctor, being president, horses, people, writing, reading? There are so many different things to be passionate about in life. Some are extremely important, and others are not very important in the grand scheme of the world.

One thing holds true about all our passions, whether they are only important to us or important to everyone around us: When you are passionate about something, you will live it out urgently!

A characteristic the world deperately needs to see in Christians is urgent passion.

What is there to be urgent about? What is there to be passionate about?

America is in trouble. We are headed down a path familiar to fallen cultures and civilizations that have gone before us. Jim Nelson Black wrote When Nations Die: Ten Warning Signs of a Culture in Crisis. See if you recognize America in these warning signs.

Social Decay
1. The Crisis of Lawlessness
2. The Loss of Economic Discipline
3. Rising Bureaucracy
Cultural Decay
4. Decline of Education
5. Weakening of Cultural Foundations
6. The Loss of Respect for Tradition
7. An Increase in Materialism
Moral Decay
8. Rise in Immorality
9. Decay of Religious Belief
10. Devaluing of Human Life

I see all 10 0f these warning signs growing in American life. This should give Christians urgency to rescue the world in a passionate way. We have a message of hope that we need to be passionate about and that the world deperately needs to hear and see us be passionate about.

And Satan knows this!

One of Satan's greates tools is to use our thoughts. Here are a few things he tells us about the need for passion and urgency:

1. "The world has survived without your passion and urgency for this long. Dont' you think it can survive with out it for a little while longer?"

2. Everything will be fine! You don't need to worry about your friends, your country or your world today. You can help them tomorrow!"

3. Are you the only Christian out there? Of course not! Why should you have to do this? Let someone else do it. It's not your job.

4. You just don't have time right now. You've got too many other things to do than worry about him. Just wait until you have more time.

But God says: "I want you!" You might say "who? Me?" If so, then you are in good company. Read Jeremiah 1:4-8.

In v 4-5 God tells Jeremiah, "I want you use you to change the world."

In v6 Jeremiah responds, "who, me?"

And in v7-8 God says, "Yep, but you aren't going to do it on your own authority. You will do it on my authority."

So, what authority has God given you on this urgent mission of passion he wants to send you on?

1. Going Authority-You have the authority to go wherever God sends you, no matter what other people might say. Why? Because God has sending authority! (v7)

2. Proclaiming Authority-You have the authority to say whatever God tells you to say no matte what other people might think. Why? Because it's the Word of God! (v7)

3. Emboldening Authority-You can be bold in your going and proclaiming no matter who you go to. Why? Because the Lord is with you to deliver you! (v8)

Read Jeremiah 1:9-10
God wants to use YOU to change the world...starting right where you are!

So, what's holding you back?

Which of those lies is Satan putting in your mind that is keeping you from being passionate about the word of God?

Where has God placed you for the purpose of living out the Gospel passionately and urgently?

What message has God given you to proclaim passionately and urgently?

Who has God surrounded you with that need to see the boldness of your passion and urgency?

Do you trust that God has the authority to use you?

So, what's holding you back?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On the Front Porch

The JW's just stopped by...again...so I decided to challenge them a little bit this time. I was a little rusty...it's been a while, but God was gracious not to send me JW scholars this time.

It is so sad to see them deny the divinity of Jesus to my face. The lady said as they were pulling away in their car, "Jesus is not God!" That's a death sentence!

I encouraged them to challenge what they have been tought. I was accused of not having read my bible. I was told everyone would have died if Jesus was God when they looked at him because "no man can look on God and live." I was told that when Jesus said "I and the father are one" or "I Am" that he was just talking about a unified purpose.

But all that doesn't matter...because I was told repeatedly, Jesus is not God. How sad. But, they've heard the truth, and it can (and I pray will) set them free from the lies they have been taught.

Pray that Christians can be as diligent in communicating their beliefs as JW's are. Another sad thing is that, even though the group at my door today really could not defend their faith on any deep level, I know that most Christians students (including YOU) and adults could not do any better.

Lake Water Ministry

Fun w/ Ice Cream and H2O

H2O Meets Holland Joye

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

When it Rains, It Pours

Flood Zone Recap
May 20, 2007 (Happy 7th Anniversery Christie!)

Despair. There are so many things that can bring despair into our lives. How do we deal with despair when the hits come one after another?

This has been a tough week. We've all had to deal with some difficult situations. Everybody faces different struggles everyday, some big, and some small. We've all had to deal with the recent death of Steve, but maybe you've had to deal with the ending of a friendship, or bad grades, or dissapointment, or some sort of abuse. Like I said, there are a number of different things that we might deal with that could cause despair, hopelessness, and an upheaval of our spirit and emotions.

How does Satan want us to respond to these struggles?

How does God want us to respond to these struggles?

Is it Ok to feel sadness, grief, and emotional pain in the midst of our struggles?

In John 14:27, Jesus tells us to "not let your hearts be troubled," but in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he faced his last hours, the Bible tells us that Jesus' heart was troubled. Jesus was sinless, so we have to come to the conclusion that an emotional response to tough situations is not sinful in and of itself. So, what did Jesus mean when he told his discples to not be troubled.

I think he means that they shouldn't give in to the emotional response. He wants us to keep figting. As John Piper says in his book Future Grace, the sin of despair and despondency comes when we aren't "turning on the air-raid siren, and not heading for the bomb shelters, and not deploying the antiaircraft weapons. If Satan drops a bomb on your peace, and yo udon't make ready for war, people are going to wonder whose side you're on."

We have to prepare for the attack of despair and despondency (hopelessness). We have to be ready to fight it. If we don't fight it, then we will end up feeling completely hopeless, and that is not a place that God wants us to be.

So, how do we fight? Who do we look to as an example of what to do when Satan is dropping that bomb? Well, why not Jesus? He came face to face with utter despair in the Garden that night. How did he respond?

Read Matthew 26:36-39

Six Strategic Tactics Jesus Used in his Struggle Against Despondency (from Future Grace by John Piper)

1. Jesus chose close friends to be with Him. (v37) Notice that these friends are close BELIEVERS! This took some pre-planning. He had to surround himself with believers to begin with. He didn't just seek out those who believed when he got into trouble, he spent his life with them, making them his closest friends! Don't expect your non-Christians friends to be able to help you in the battle against despair and despondency. You have to surround yourself with Christian friends!

2. Jesus opened up to His friends and let them know his heart. (v38) He was honest with them about how he was feeling. That way, they knew how they could pray for and encourage him.

3. Jesus asked his friends for prayer and partnership in the battle. (v39) Again, this could not have been done if his friends were not believers.

4. He poured out His heart to God in prayer. (v39) God knows your heart, but he wants to hear you surrender that troubled heart and deep emotion to him.

5. He rested his soul in the perfect wisdom of God. (v39) He was accepting of the fact that God knows best and that God has our best interests in mind. There is no room for depsair if you believe that!

6. He fixed His eyes on the glorious future grace of God that was on the other side of the cross. (Hebrews 12:2)

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 promises us that we are going to face tough times, but it also promises us that we can stand firm in the midst of that.

Christ has given us the perfect example of how to deal with life when the bomb drops. Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. In the midst of the downpour of trials, the grace of God is waiting to shine through in an awesome way.

So, you have a choice: either stay in the rain, or step into the light of God's grace!

"When something drops into your life that seems to threaten your future, remember this: the first shockwaves of the bomb are not sin. The real danger is yielding to them. Giving in. Putting up no spiritual fight. And the root of that surrender is unbelief--a failure to fight for faith in future grace. A failure to cherish all that God promises to be for us in Jesus."

"Jesus shows us another way. Not painless, and not passive. Follow him. Find your trusted spiritual friends. Open your soul to them. Ask them to watch with you and pray. Pour out your soul to the Father. Rest in the sovereign wisdom of God. And fix your eyes on teh joy set before yo in the precious and magnificent promises of God." John Piper (Future Grace, Page 307)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Forgiveness

WNBS Recap
May 16, 2007

As Christian we claim to be forgiven, yet, at the same time, we often find it difficult to live with an attitude of forgiveness. When we are offended and our pride is hurt our first thoughts typically do not tend toward forgiveness.

But, an attitude of forgiveness is essential in Christians. It is the evidence to the world that what we say about Jesus and His forgiveness is true. As long as Christians continue to be unforgiving and hold grudges and bitterness in their hearts, the world has no reason to listen to what we have to say about the power of God's forgiveness through Christ. That is why we forgive. So, why Bother Forgiving? Because forgiveness:

1. is an example and encouragement to others to forgive. (2 Corinthians 2:5-10)
2. illustrates that we are forgiven. (Ephesians 4:32)
3. sets you free from past hurts. (Genesis 41:51; Matthew 18:21-22)

This last reason for forgiving takes us to the well known phrase "forgive and forget." Forgiving and forgetting is important, but how do we do it?

First, forgiving without forgetting in not really forgiving. Second, forgiving and forgetting does not mean that you will never remeber the wrong that has been done to you. Forgiving and forgetting means that you refuse to live in an attitude of bitterness or revenge toward that person for what they did to you. It also means that you will not count that offense against them at a later date. Forgiving and forgetting means that when the anger of that situation begins to grow in your heart and mind, you surrender it again and again to Jesus.

Your forgiveness of another person is more about your right relationship to God than it is about your right relationship to that person. Unforgiveness is a sinful attitude that will hinder your relationship with God and will branch off into several destructive attiudes.

If pride is the root of unforgiveness, and unforgiveness is the trunk of the tree, then Ephesians 4:31 shows 6 ways unforgiveness branches out to negatively impact our lives:

Anger
Wrath
Bitterness
Slander (saying something against someone)
Complaining
Malice (slander with a purpose to injure)

This video is an example of what can happen when unforgiveness roots itself in pride and branches out into anger, wrath, bitterness, slander, complaining, and malice. See if you can pick out those 6 characteristics in what athiest Christopher Hitchens has to say about a great man of God, Jerry Fallwell.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfw7hUEujUw

That is the danger of allowing unforgiveness to go unchecked. It's not enough to cut off the individual branches of anger, wrath, bitterness, slander/gossip, complaining and malice from your life, because the root problem still remains: unforgiveness growing out of pride.

We have been given a specific task: "As far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18) This starts with having a heart of forgiveness. Cut out the root of pride growing into unforgiveness, knowing the danger that lies ahead if you allow that attitude of unforgiveness to grow.

Who do you need to forgive? Confess your heart of unforgiveness and ask the Spirit to replace it with a heart of a peacemaker. Confess your heart of pride and ask the Spirit to instead give you a heart of humility.

Then, the world can see what true forgiveness is!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

So, You Say You're a Christian?

Flood Zone Recap
May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Question of the Night: When a fried says they're saved, how can you tell? And if not, how can you help them without them ignoring what you say?

How Can You Tell?
Matthew 7:15-18, 20-21: Beware of the false prophets who come to yo in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit..Sso then, you will know them by their fruits. not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

We can tell if someone is truly the Christian they claim to be by testing the fruit. We can test the fruit by asking three questions about that person...or maybe even about ourselves!

1. Those who are in Christ are new creatures: Have their actions and attitudes changed? (Hebrews 10:26-27; 2 Cor 5:17; 1 John 2:3-7)

2. Thos who are in Christ have the Spirit in them: Are the fruits of the Spirit present and being developed (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control-Romans 8:14-16, 23; Galatians 5:17-26)

3. Those who are in Christ are being sanctified (set apart, made perfect/holy): Is there a desire for holines and change? (Romans 6:22; 2 Thess 2:13)

How can you Help?

If you asked these questions about a friend and your answers were "no, no, no" then be concerened about your friend's salvation. Here are some ways you can help.

1. Pray for them daily. Let them know you are praying for them.

2. Loving Rebuke: As long as they bear the name of Jesus, you must call them out on their sin.

3. Be an Example: Practice what you preach!

You may never see the results of your prayers, love and example to your friends, but trust that God is working in their hearts to help them realize the fact that they are lost. Don't abandon your friends that think they are saved just because they walked an aisle or were baptized when they were 7. They may be deceived and our prayers, love and example could make a difference...maybe tomorrow...maybe in 10 years!

So, What about You?

How is your fruit? If someone were to test your fruit, would you pass the test? Do your friends know you love them and are praying fo them? Are you living the example that could make al lthe difference tomorrow or 10 years from now? Are you crying "Lord, Lord" tring to fake your way into heaven when Jesus doesn't even know you?

Important questions to ask...important answers to know.

Read 1 John 2:3-7. Is this you? If so, then you can be certain you are a child of God. Pray for others that think they are but are not, that they would recognize the deception and truly give their lives to God.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Introducing Holland Joye!

Thanks everybody for stopping by last night to meet Holland. I look forward to ya'll getting to know her over the coming years!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Compassion

WNBS Recap
April 25, 2007

Compassion is a characteristic that the world needs to see in Christians. Many people might consider themselves compassionate whether they are Christian or not, but Christian compassion should look different from compassion the rest of the world expresses. Often, however, Christians express a form of compassion that is not unique to followers of Christ. Instead, they express compassion that is familiar to everyone.

Here are 3 Problem Characteristics of Compassion from Christians: How it looks just like the world.
1. Compassion without Answers: This is compassion that never expresses hope that can be found in a situation. This is compassion that never meets the greatest need of the one who is suffering, and that greatest need in their life is hope in Jesus.

2. Compassion over Responsibility: This is compassion that overlooks and excuses sin. This type of compassion says "they've suffered enough, why should they be reminded that their actions brought this suffering into their life." Through excusing sin, the compassionate Christian loses the opportunity to present the truth, hope and healing power of forgiveness.

3. Compassionless Rebuke: This is a lack of compassion for the reason that the one who is suffering "got what they deserved." Compassionless rebuke does not show compassion because the person's actions do not warrant compassion. This lack of compassion forfeits the opportunity to again present the hope and healing of forgiveness.

So, what is the starting point of compassion? Romans 12:15 tells us to "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." This is the starting point. Weeping with those who are weeping. Showing sympathy and bearing the suffering along with others. During this starting point, crying, hugging, and praying may be all that you need to do to show compassion to someone. As time goes on, however, Christian compassion moves into a different stage. For Christians this second stage of compassion, beyond the "weep with those who weep" must look different from the world. We see great examples of true compassion in the character of Christ and God.

3 Prized Characteristics of Compassion from Christians: How true compassion stands out.

1. Compassionate Hope: John 11:17-29-in the midst of the grief that Martha is feeling over the death of her brother, Jesus reminds her of the hope of life eternal. He may have been tellling her the miracle he was about to perform, but Martha still found hope in the fact that her brother would rise again, even if just spiritually. In the midst of suffering and crisis, we have the opportunity to present the hope of eternity through Jesus. This hope truly is the ONLY answer to grief and sorrow.

2. Compassionate Teaching: John 8:1-11-as the woman caught in adultery is about to pay for her crime with her life, Jesus teaches the crowd three things: He is perfect, we are all sinners, and forgiveness is available for everyone no matter how bad the sin may seem. Even though Jesus offered the woman forgiveness, he did not overlook or excuse her sin. He pointed it out to her in saying "go and sin no more." His revealing her sin was in a gentle and compassionate way, not in the heartless and unforgiving way that the pharisees approached her.

3. Compassionate Forgiveness: Jonah 3:1-4:4-in this familiar story we see both sides of the coin. Jonah preaches the truth and coming destruction to the people of Ninevah but does not want to see them forgiven. He wants to see them "get what they deserve." God, however, in his lovingkindess, patience, and compassion, forgives them of all the wrong, relents, and allows them an opportunity to put their lives right. No matter what others think of someone's deserving of forgiveness, we must show compassion that forgives.

A lot of times you just won't know how exactly to respond with compassion until you find yourself in the situation. You have to trust the Spirit to guide you in each specific case, but it doesn't hurt to think about and prepare for specific examples.

How would you respond if a teenage friend told you they were pregnant, had an STD, or were thinking about suicide?

How would you respond if a friend of yours was physically or sexually abused?

How would you respond if your neighbor's house burned down or their dad died in a car wreck?

How would you respond if your best friends parents were getting divorced, or she lost her job, or wasn't accepted to the college she wanted to go to?

There are all kinds of situations that require compassion. You compassion towards others will either show them nothing new or it will show them hope. If you are a Chrstian that is not compassionate, then you are missing out on a great opportunity to share truth and hope. We have more to offer people in the midst of their suffering that anyone else has.

But you have to be willing to get in at the starting point...weep with those who weep!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Foundational Characteristics

WNBS Recap
April 18, 2007

See if you can guess who is represented by these characteristics. The answers will be at the bottom of the blog:

1. Knows how to handle leather. Carries a big stick. Play in the grass and dirt all summer. Hopes they have a job in October. Favorite snack is a mouthful of sunflower seeds.

2. Goes to every house in town on a weekly basis. Would be happy to have a poor sense of smell. Sometimes finds an unexpected treasure. Most people prepare for his arrival the night before he comes.

3. Lives life a mile high. Prefers his peanuts in a small bag. All his work clothes have stripes. Whe he speaks, everyone listens.

4. Knows not ot put all of his eggs in one basket. A typical morning involves a "squeeze & pull". Is a plant manager. Favorite color is "John Deere Green".

5. Is always setting a trap. Lives an up, down, and side to side existence. Everyone answers to him. Hates small numbers. Heads out for at least a 300 hour cruise.

Characteristics are what define people. If you want to be recognized as a part of a particular group, you need to have the characteristics of that group. It is not different with Christianity. There are certain characteristics that should be associated with Christians, and certain characteristics that should not. The problem we run in to is that many times, the characteristics the world sees in Christian lives are no different from the characteristics in their own lives. Christian relationships often look just like worldly relationships. A Christian's attitudes are no different from worldly attitudes. A Christian's actions reflect worldly attitudes. And a Christian's speech often has nothing of Christ in it.

How do you want to be defined as a Christian? Do you want to be defined as someone who is religious but no different from the rest of us? Do you want to be defined as someone who is all talk and no action? Do you want to be defined as hypocritical, ignorant, or deceived? How can we change our world's perspective of the characteristics of Christianity?

The change starts with our relationships. We most often do our imitating of God (or anti-imitating of God) within our relationships. The world will see our characteristics in our husband/wife, parent/child, employer/employee relationships and in our friendships. Jesus reminds us in John 13:34-35 that people will know we are his disciples by our love for each other and the characteristics of our relationships. For the world to correctly define Christianity, our relationships must look different from the world.

The change continues in our attitudes and actions. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that our attitudes (heart) define our actions (flowing forth of life). If we have attitudes of pride, greed, anger, revenge and lust, then our actions are going to follow. True characteristics of Chrstianity, however, are counter-cultural. For the world to correctly define Christianity, our attitudes and actions must be counter-cultural.

Finally, there must be change through our speech. When Peter denied Christ (Matthew 26:69-75) he was confronted and exposed as a follower of Christ by the way that he talked. Are we to take this to mean that his accent gave him away, or something deeper than that. I believe it was more than his accent that gave him away, but his actual speech...what he said. Why? Because look how he responds to the accusation. He changes his speech to cursing. Our speech, if it is full of salt and light, will be obviously different to the world. For the world to correctly define Christianity, they must hear it in our speech.

What would people think if I told them you were a Jesus Freak? Would they say, "no way! He acts just like us!" Would they think, "whatever, he leaves us alone. We don't care what he is as long as it doesn't change who he is." Or, would they say, "Of course. There's obviously something different about them. So that's what it is!"

Our characteristics define who we are and who we belong to. Are you defining Christianity properly by your relationships, attitudes, actions, and speech?

Here are the answers!
1. Baseball player
2. Garbage man
3. Pilot
4. Farmer
5. Crab Boat Captain