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Friday, March 2, 2018

WHY THE CROSS?

So, as we are approaching easter, here are some thoughts I had concerning the cross and what it means to me. This is as far as looking at Scriptures and asking His Spirit to speak to me. What do you think?



WHY THE BLOOD?
Friday, March 2, 2018
9:35 AM
1 Corinthians 1:16-25

First of all, we need to understand one thing and one thing only. Our lives should be based, founded and established on one truth and one truth alone. And that is the GOESPEL truth.

The gospel is our true north. The gospel is our lifeline. The unaltered message of God throughout scripture. We were created in God's image for God's delight, we were given a purpose, and we were given life. WE chose to disobey and rebel, and that brought death, decay, and separation from the life source, God.

God provided a way for us to be rescued, delivered, redeemed, forgiven, acquitted, accepted, etc. in Jesus. His sacrifice, Him taking our place for the punishment, payment and justice that we deserved.

And after dying for us and taking our place, he defeated the power of death, of sin and of eternal damnation when he rose again, providing for us the righteous standing before the righteous judge, God. His wrath and justice were satisfied in Jesus for us. So now we have the righteousness of Jesus as our covering and dress, and therefore no longer enemies of God but accepted and adopted into His family. John 1:11-12

So, after we believe, embrace and Holy Spirit both as a guarantee of what is to come (salvation) and as our helper to enable us and empower us to live our lives in a manner worthy of the calling and purpose He has for us, which is to be His ambassadors, representatives and samples of His glory, love, freedom, joy, peace, rest, and abundant life!!!

So, His gift of freedom and forgiveness is not for us to have now license to sin.

He didn't come to just forgive our sins so that we can then feel like we can keep on sinning since all sins are forgiven.

He came to rescue us from the power that sin had over our lives, the power that sin has to enslave us and keep us in death and darkness.

He came to free us from the curse of sin. Sin keeps us in darkness and death. Sin cannot abide with holiness. Light with darkness. And since that was and is the main problem, sin, curse and death, Jesus frees us from this power in to a new life, a new hope, and a new beginning.

So, why keep on sinning? If we do, then we have not had the true conversion, the true transformation, the true surrender and conviction!!!

That is the "WHY THE CROSS?"

The cross is to reconcile, to be born again into a new life, new hope, to be brought from the kingdom of darkness in to the kingdom of light.

To be freed from the power of sin in our lives. No longer slaves. No longer bound. No longer under its power and curse!!!

So why are we still struggling? Why aren't we surrendering yet?

Monday, January 29, 2018

FOOD COURT SAMPLES - An excerpt from last week's message

  1. Ephesians 4 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

What is the church to be like?
Who is the church?
How is it meant to function?
What does God say about the church, its function, purpose and mission?

It is like a restaurant and we're the samples.
It's like a bakery and the smell of fresh bread is going out into the community and people are lured into, wooed into the smell and come to it.

Think about it that way. Like a good restaurant, that food smells so good, and then it makes you hungry. It awakens senses in you that make you think like "hmmm, that smells so good!!!"
Even if you already ate, it awakens your hunger and you appetite.

Or when you are at a mall and go through the food court and there are all these restaurants offering samples, you taste it and if it is good then you make your decision based on that.

We in the church are being taught, trained and equipped to be God's samples in the world.
When the people smell us, taste from our lives, our testimony, our experience and they see what God is doing, the peace, love, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, rest, etc. they will then become curious, it will wet their appetite and then we can tell them, "hey, if you like the sample, come in for the full meal…we have a special…all you can eat for free!!!"

But we cannot do that if we, the samples, are not tasty, yummy, well cooked and healthy. Imagine that we are samples but because of the way we live our lives and live out our spirituality, we look rotten, smell bad, undercooked (immature, judging, self-rigtheouss, etc.), moldy, cold, or just plain disgusting!!!

We ought to understand what our role is and how God wants us to live it out.
As samples of God's abundant life and forgiveness and hope, we ought to look appetizing to a needy world. They're hungry, but they're going after junk food. We have the meats!!! (ARBY's)

The church (as in the true representation of the body of Christ) is the restaurant where all this good food is available. It is the kingdom of God expressed here on earth. The church is to be the sample, the representation of what the kingdom of God looks like!

Righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost. That's the Kingdom of God!!!


So, a few questions about the church

We are to equip the saints
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.


We are to live out the kingdom of God through our everyday lives (individually in our everyday walk)

We are to live in community and fellowship together as a witness to the world (corporately as a body)

So, how do you see church?
What do you see your role in the church is?
How is who you are and who God made you to play a role in the equipping of the saints and the reaching out to others?
How we can make sure we're following God as we grow together?
If we're to make disciples and grow, how do you see that happening?
Programs? More Bible studies?

How about your part, your role?? Teaching? Leading Bible studies? Children? Youth? Music? Art? Media?
Community service?

Think about these things!!!!

Religion telling what to do - jesus teaching you who to be
Religion doing behavior modification - jesus transforming your heart - to change your desires and passions
Religion shaming us for our past - jesus redeeming us from it!
Organization wanting your money - God wanting your heart
Not turning a blind eye to the world but opening our eyes to the hope he wants to bring to it
Religion forcing you to follow rules - Jesus asking you to follow Him
Religion putting you into a mold - Jesus continually shaping and molding and forming you into who He designed you to be
Not a place, but people
Not a building, but a kingdom here on earth
Not controlling us but setting us free!
It is about righteousness, just not self-righteousness!
Not about denominations but putting Christ at the head of all things!
Not an exclusive club but an inclusive family
Not about a day of the week, but everyday of our lives
Not about proving yourself, but knowing the one who's been proved and who's approved us!
Not about getting all questions answered, but the freedom to ask them

Not about proving your point, but pointing to a Savior

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS TO BE SAVED!


What is salvation really about?
What does it really mean to be saved?


True transformation, salvation, belonging to God needs and ought to be a spiritual experience. It cannot be something external only. A change of behavior. Following a set of rules. Doing things that seem right for the purpose of attaining something. In this case, staying out of trouble, doing "godly and good things", behaving better than others, or following a set of laws and rules for the sake of earning salvation, justification or eternity in heaven


True salvation, true conversion, true transformation happens at the heart level. At the deepest part of who we are. At the core of our beings.
The question to ask of a Christian, whether a new believer or a veteran one is this…DOES HE HAVE MY HEART?
DOES HE OWN MY SOUL?
MY WILL?
MY EMOTIONS?
MY THOUGHTS?
DESIRES?
WANTS?
PASSIONS?
PLANS?
FUTURE?

Is my every thought filtered through the filter of His love, righteousness, desires, will, purposes, truth???
TRUE HOLINESS MEANS THAT WE HAVE HOLY THOUGHTS, MOTIVES, FEELINGS, ETC.

Is everything you do motivated by a passion to please Him? Otherwise nothing that we do, accomplish or attain is acceptable to Him.

We cannot obtain, attain, or earn God's approval by our own means ever!!! Striving, trying, working hard at being good will never get us anywhere!


As we grow into maturity in Christ, we ought to be transformed in our desires, wants, and passions!
Whenever anything stands in competition with your enjoyment of Him and the relationship we have with Him, we should reject it and even hate it!

THE MEASURE OF YOUR SURRENDER GOES HAND IN HAND WITH THE MEASURE OF YOUR FAITH AND BUYOUT IN TO WHO HE SAYS HE IS AND WHAT HE'S DONE AND PROMISED!!!

SO, WE CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO THINK ABOUT ETERNITY, CHRISTIANITY OR HOLINESS BEFORE WE OWN OUR FAITH AND ARE FULLY CONVINCED ABOUT IT!


AND AS CHRISTIANS, OUR CALLING, PRIVILEGE AND OUR GIFT IS TO GROW INTO THE FULL MEASURE OF MATURITY IN CHRIST!!!

WE CANNOT STAY AS A BABY. WE HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN. BUT A BABY IS BORN AND GROWS. HE GRADUATES INTO NEW STAGES AS HE GROWS AN DEVELOPS.

CAN YOU IMAGINE A BABY GROWING UP BUT NEVER LEARNING HOW TO TALK? OR WALK? OR GO POTTY?
OR THAT NEEDS TO BE SPOON-FED ALL THE TIME, EVEN WHEN THEY'RE TEENAGERS OR ADULTS?

HOW ODD AND WRONG WOULD THAT BE?

IT'S THE SAME WITH US AS CHRSITIANS. WE OUGHT TO GROW UP, MATURE AND LEARN AS WE MOVE ALONG IN OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES!!!

LIVING BY THE SPIRIT, BEING IN CHRIST!!! THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS.


ROMANS 8:1-17 LIVING BY THE SPIRIT! ONLY THIS WAY!!!

TEACHING BY MODELING - TRUE DISCIPLESHIP

We don't learn best by just studying or researching or burying our noses in books.

We learn by observing, by imitating, by doing, by doing alongside, by watching and then trying.

This is the way one learns about life, God, relationships, finances, jobs, marriage, sports, nature, science, etc.

We can study all we want, but if we never do it, see someone else do it, try it ourselves, put our hands to it, watch someone else do it and learning by observing and putting it into practice, then we are just a bunch of learned people, but not truly doers and practitioners of whatever it is that we claim to have knowledge of.

This is the way Jesus taught and things were taught back then.
To truly become a disciple, a follower, they needed to become like the Rabbi!

To be covered in their rabbi's dust. To be walking so close to the Rabbi that whatever they smelled, got dirty with, ate, felt, wherever they slept, however they responded to things, reacted to challenges, situations, events, etc. the disciples imitated.

As adults, as parents, we need to realize that this generation is the "NOW" generation. This is the generation that is inheriting the world, the church and society in general.

What are we investing in in their lives? What values, principles, foundation are we helping them lay for the near future? Will the tools we give them help them build their lives on the rock?
Or will they build their lives/houses on passing things, things that don't last, that won't help them and support them when things get hard?

What are we modeling for them/ How are they going to make God a priority in their lives? Are we communicating that to them? Are we showing them and modeling that to them?


How will they learn about prayer, worship, the word of God, the intimacy and relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit, and the H.S. role in their lives today, salvation, etc?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

SOMEBODY HELP!!!

So, as sit here this morning, after attending my turbo group (a small group of men that meet every Tuesday @ 6am), i am still thinking of some of the things we were discussing during our meeting time.
And we were talking about men being the leaders in our homes, the priests, the ones that are guiding and leading our families. And the discussion turned into talking about our culture, society, and what it is doing to our families and lives altogether.

This is what i mean.

I hear this all the time, and i'm included as well.
"I'm so busy! It's so busy! Life is crazy busy! I don't have time! I feel like a chicken running with the head cut off! I'm going in a 1000 directions all day everyday! Sorry, i can't, i'm too busy...next time?
Rain check? I'm running my kids to this practice, and this other practice, and this tournament, and this summer camp, and this league, and, and, and..." It never stops.

We're so busy we have no time for anything, except that which is priority to us.
We allocate our time, effort, resources, energy and commitment to that which is priority to us.

When i titled this blog "somebody help!" i was thinking of the cry of our lives for something or someone to help us slow down cause we realize that truly, our lives are out of control. We have busy schedules and we are great at staying busy, producing results, performing great and looking amazing by the way our schedules are. We are in a race that says "go, go, go, perform, produce, look busy, get involved in everything, sign up for everything, because that's what makes someone successful. It makes us look good, important, and it gives us a sense of significance and meaning.

But there's a huge trap in this, and the trap is to keep us so busy, occupied, and on the go so that we don't slow down and have the time to sit and listen to God speaking to us, cause most of the time, that is the place where he speaks to us at.
Quietness. Solitude. In the secret.

We've fallen into the trap of thinking that a busy schedule means we're successful. That we're accomplished. That we are important.

But deep inside we know that it is all empty. At the end of the day no matter how many things we have accomplished, we still feel empty, void, tired, exhausted and weary of starting all over again next day. I have felt that way.

But here's a nugget of truth for us today...NO ONE IS PUTTING A GUN TO OUR HEADS TO STAY BUSY OR GET BUSY!
WE HAVE A CHOICE.

We don't have to sign up for everything. We don't need to teach our kids the way of the world as it is right now. This is what the world is teaching our kids. Do, perform, accomplish, sign up, get involved, push stronger, run faster, try harder, etc, etc, etc. And we are teaching our kids that it is never enough. And so they're living with this constant pressure where they never feel like they're enough.

And this is causing hurt and pain in their lives, creating an identity that tells them that in order for them to be successful they need to perform and accomplish.

But that is not what God tells us. That is not how he created us and what he made us for.

He made us to live our lives as an overflow of our relationship with him.

To abide in Him, to quiet down, to listen, to separate time to be in his presence. To slow down enough to allow our hearts to connect with him.

Yes, there's life happening out there, and we are part of this world and society, but we cannot let society dictate to us how we should live our lives. God needs to have the ultimate say.

So, next time you're too busy for God, His presence, or even attending church, remember this...what is the priority in your life and your family's life?
What legacy are you trying to leave with your kids? To be a performer? A great athlete?
Or to know Jesus and the plans and purpose he has for our lives?

Going to church should never be a chore, a burden, and certainly not a mandatory rule.

But is should be a time where as a family, after a crazy week of activities, we all come together to remember who is our priority, who is our leader, our Father and lover, and to refocus and re-prioritize our lives. To remember, if we have surrender our lives to him, who is in control and what really matters.

Everything in this life will pass away. Sports, jobs, academics, accomplishments, etc. Only one thing will remain after all this is gone...our hearts and souls. We are eternal beings.

So, let's refocus and redirect our lives today. What are we living for???

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

RELIGION VS RELATIONSHIP

WHAT MATTERS MOST
RELIGION VS RELATIONSHIP
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
9:10 AM
In the end, what matters most is not what religion you belonged to, what church you went to, or what denomination you followed.

In the end, it doesn't matter how good you were, how many good works you did, how much trouble you abstained or stayed away from.

In the end what matters is "did you embrace Jesus, God, and all his truth?"  "Did you believe him, accepted his gift, and lived in the faith of Jesus, who loved you and gave himself for you?"

These are the things that matter. In the end the only thing that matters is whether you believed Him and lived according to that faith.

So, what's the purpose of religion? Why is there religion in the world? What does it mean? What is it?

And what's the aim of it? Why have religion?

And when we look at God, then, can we say that God wants us to have religion? Is his purpose for us to be affiliated with a certain denomination? Is that what he wants? What he delights in?

What's God's ultimate goal? His sole desire for us?
His purpose and desire is for relationship. So, if this is true, then religion doesn't matter. What matters then?

What matters is if we believe Him, believe His word, His character, His truth, and then live accordingly.
His word is our manual, our guidance, our wisdom. Through His spirit.

Our aim is to know him. To know we are known. To know what pleases Him. What he says about Himself and us.
How he wants us to live. Why he wants us to live His ways!!!

If we believe Him, then we will believe His promises. His words of wisdom. His guidance. We will trust Him.
With our relationships. Our feelings. Our emotions. Our future. We will embrace His plans.

We will desire what he desires. We will love what he loves. We will rest in His care. In his provision. We will let go of hurts. Pain. Doubts. Fears. Stress. Anxiety. Expectations of others.

We will stop trying to please others. To live for ourselves. To bow down to the world and its ways.

We will love eternity and our hope to come. We will hate evil. We will stay away from sin.

And all these things are the things that please Him, that he delights in. That he loves!

And these are the things that give us His life! His eternal life. A life that flows from our everyday trusting His saving power. His saving grace.

And will always be convinced of our need for Him. Our condition without him. Our sinful state. And our doomed and damned existence without Him.

We will believe His gospel. That apart form Him we cannot save ourselves. Our good works are like filthy rags. We cannot ever measure up to His standards.

And that is what religion teaches us, sadly. To work hard, to strive to be better for the sake of "gaining His approval or His acceptance". And we cannot do it. That is Satan's lie. To get us to try our hardest but out of a heart of guilt and shame and fear and not out of a heart of gratitude and love.

God will not take sacrifices. He does not delight in burnt offerings. That's all a lie!!!

Mark 7:1-23

Mark 7The Voice (VOICE)
Then the Pharisees returned to talk with Jesus, and with them came some of the scribes and scholars from Jerusalem.
Scribes and Scholars (seeing the disciples eating): Your disciples are eating bread with defiled, unwashed hands.
Now you need to know that the Pharisees, and all Jews for that matter, held the tradition of their ancestors that hands must be washed before eating to avoid being ritually unclean. Likewise, they washed when they returned from the market and followed similar purity teachings as well, from the washing of their food to the washing of their bowls, cups, and kettles.
Scribes and Pharisees: Why don’t Your disciples follow the traditions passed down to us? Why do they eat their bread with defiled hands?
Jesus: Isaiah prophesied wisely about your religious pretensions when he wrote,
    These people honor Me with words off their lips;
        meanwhile their hearts are far from Me.
    Their worship is empty, void of true devotion.
        They teach a human commandment, memorized and practiced by rote.[a]
When you cling blindly to your own traditions [such as washing utensils and cups],[b] you completely miss God’s command. Then, indeed, you have perfected setting aside God’s commands for the sake of your tradition. 10 Moses gave you God’s commandment: “Honor your father and your mother.”[c] And also, “If you curse your father or your mother, you will be put to death.”[d11 But you say to your aged parents, “I’ve decided that the support you were expecting from me will now be the holy offering set aside for God.” 12 After that he is not allowed to do anything for his parents. 13 Do you think God wants you to honor your traditions that you have passed down? This is only one of many places where you are blind. 14 (to the crowd that had gathered) Listen, all of you, to this teaching. I want you to understand. 15 There is nothing outside someone that can corrupt him. Only the things that come out of a person can corrupt him. [16 All who have ears to hear, let them listen.][e]
17 When they had come in from the road, His disciples asked Him what He meant by this teaching.
Jesus: 18 Do you mean you don’t understand this one either? Whatever goes into people from outside can’t defile them 19 because it doesn’t go into their hearts. Outside things go through their guts and back out, thus making all foods pure.[f]20 No, it’s what comes from within that corrupts. 21-22 It’s what grows out of the hearts of people that leads to corruption: evil thoughts, immoral sex, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wicked acts, treachery, sensuality, jealousy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All of these come from within, and these are the sins that truly corrupt a person.


Jesus and the Pharisees. This is the greatest example. The Pharisees were so focused on man made religion and all the rudiments that they had come up with, that they completely missed the point of Jesus and His coming.

By obeying the law they proud themselves of their accomplishments. Self righteousness. They thought of themselves as better than others because they thought that their own "efforts and great sacrifices and deeds" made them better than everyone else. In fact, they added more things to the law in order to make themselves better.

But who did Jesus have the most trouble with? Them!!!

He said to them "I came to the ones who recognize and acknowledge that they're sick. Those who don't see it cannot be saved or healed".

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

HOW DOES SIN WORK?

You know, I have been thinking a lot about sin lately, because it seems that it is a topic that many of us are afraid of talking about, and I think it is because we are so afraid sometimes to deal with it, to face the truth that there's so much of it in our lives that has gone undealt with and ignored that it has made us numb and desensitized from its power and grip. And I know that in my life and my journey it has crept up on me so subtle and quietly that I have barely noticed it until it has claimed a grip on my life that it's hard to let go of and conquer. 

But I think it mostly because I have failed to stay alert, aware of where my worth and value come from, who my source for every need I have is, and have chosen to stay ignorant or turn a deaf ear and a blind eye for the sake of quick comfort and an easy escape that puts a bandaid on my problems instead of doing the hard work of looking into what the problem is, what God says about it and believing and trusting that what He offers me is better and can bring true healing and freedom to my life.
Sin is very sneaky, very subtle and very deceitful. It will bling, shine, entice, lure, woo, call out to us, seduce and trick us into thinking and believing it can give us the fix we need for the moment. 
That is what all the commercials advertising and media do to us. They show us all the great times we can have by being promiscuous, partying, drinking, doing drugs, cheating, lying, chasing after fame and fortune, getting rich, being successful, manipulating others, controlling, etc.
But they never show the consequences of those actions, where people end up after having cheated on their spouse, how kids are affected after a divorce due to financial stress, lying, cheating, anger, alcohol or drug related problems, selfishness and pride, etc. They never show people going to jail for drunk driving, murdering other innocent people because of a drunk driving accident, or because of bitterness in their hearts, anger issues, or girls being raped and abused due to sexual immorality and addiction, the porn industry, sex slavery, etc. 
But we don't like talking about those things, yet they affect our lives each and every day. Or racial issues. Or political intolerance or religious legalism or whatever you can think of. 
It affects us every day.
And as I have been thinking about this, I have been sharing with the youth @ IGNITE (our youth group) about what sin is, the effects of it in our lives, what God says about it, and what we need to know about it and our response to it and what God has done about it as well.

And we have been having some good discussions about it. One of the things that came up last time was that sin was defined as "missing the mark". And this means more than just missing the mark or not hitting the target. It means falling short of the standard. It means not making the cut. It means not being good enough. It means not making the team. Not measuring up. Coming up short in spite of our best efforts and attempts.
And as we are looking deeper into it this week, I found this verse that kinda clicked in my heart and mind today. 
It made so much sense. Do you want to know why we sin? Do you want to know how it works?
We think that maybe it is satan that is behind everything. WE like to blame our faults, our shortcomings, our messiness and brokenness on others. We like to think we are utterly helpless and lost, the victims of some grandiose but evil and malevolent and wicked plan. Ok, i grant you this. Satan is always trying to lure us and tempt us to do things that go contrary to God's heart and standards and His best for our lives. But he doesn't have the power to make us do anything. Now, God does has the power to make us do things, but he chooses not do impose His will and power over us, but instead makes all of this available if we so choose to accept it, receive and embrace it. But satan has no power. All he can do is tempt us, lure us and scam us. 
WE actually have to make a conscious decision, an intentional attempt at following those feelings or desires.
And here in the word of God we find it explained this way
It comes from James 
13 No one who is tempted should ever be confused and say that God is testing him. The One who created us is free from evil and can’t be tempted, so He doesn’t tempt anyone. 14-15 When a person is carried away with desire, lured by lust, and when desire becomes the focus and takes control, it gives birth to sin. When sin becomes fully grown, it produces death.
It says "when a person is CARRIED AWAY WITH DESIRE; LURED BY LUST; THEN DESIRE BECOMES THE FOCUS AND TAKES CONTROL, IT GIVES BIRTH TO SIN. AND SIN PRODUCES DEATH!!!"
So, very quickly, let's look at what He is telling us
  1. God does not tempt us
  2. A person is carried away with desire. We let ourselves feel these things deeply and strongly in us to the point of being carried away.
  3. We are lured by lust. Lured means to be called upon, to be invited. It's an invitation. And the lust in us controls us.
  4. Once we are carried away and lured by lust, then we completely loose focus, concentration, become distracted and this lost of focus and awareness rends us worthless and helpless to the situation, and we are then controlled by this desire that we no longer act with understanding and wisdom and knowledge. We are like animals. We are numbed down and dumbed down.
  5. Then we give ourselves to these feelings and give birth to sin.
  6. And then sin brings death to whatever areas of our lives it affects.
Easy, right?
I hope this helps you and me in some way, as we look at the truth of God's word and meditate upon it.
Have a blessed day, and together let's ask God to shine His light in those areas of our lives that we need Him to.