So, let’s begin with the question that most of you are asking yourself…does Dave watch GoT? Some of you are asking because you watch it and enjoy it, others because you can’t believe a pastor would watch such a thing. Read the rest of this page »
This next Sunday I’ll be launching a new series where we are going to look into all 9 ofthe Fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. (HCSB)
As you look at those 9 characteristics I’m fairly certain that all of us wish we had more of each of these in our life…especially that last one, right! So, you may be asking the question, “What do I have to do, change, work on, or be so that I can have more of those?” Well honestly, that’s the wrong question.
Notice, that Paul calls them “fruit”. When was the last time that you saw a fruit tree working at being a fruit tree? Seriously, have you ever seen a grapevine straining to produce grapes? No, of course not, that’s a silly thing to suggest! You see for the tree or the vine producing fruit just comes naturally…as long as it’s healthy and it gets the nutrients it needs.
Jesus says in John 15:
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (HSCB)
A couple of really important things to notice; first off God is the one who is doing the work on you, not you! He is looking at your life, trimming away stuff that isn’t being productive, removing things that are stealing your energy, and making sure that what you are producing is what He wants you to produce.
Second, notice the key, “Remain in me”! Your job as a follower of Jesus Christ is not to produce fruit, your job is to stay connected. When you stay connected and in close relationship with Jesus, it is him that produces the Fruit in you through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stop trying so hard to be the ‘perfect Christian’ and simply spend time with Jesus. Allow him to do what only He can do, so that you can be the person He created you to be!
I’ve had several people ask if my talk on Good Friday was recorded anywhere. Unfortunately, that night we had a lot of technical issues and it did not get recorded.
However, although I rarely do this, I actually did write out my talk for that night, so I decided to simply put it here. Feel free to share with others:
33 years…3 1/2 years of incredible miracles and teachings…12 Apostles…70 Disciples…Hundreds of followers…Thousands of lives transformed, healed, changed forever
Hungry were fed…Blind made to see …Deaf could hear…Lame began to walk…Sick were healed…Hurting were given hope…Dead were raised
Religion as a whole was changed forever:
- He broke the rules
- He confronted the arrogant
- He exalted the forgotten
- He made the wise foolish, and the foolish wise
Cultural norms were challenged
- He welcomed the poor
- He listened to the powerless
- He mingled with the wretched
- He sat with the outcast
This one man who had done immeasurable good, was now hanging on a cross. He was not there because he committed some heinous crime, or lead an evil scheme, he hung there as the one and only innocent man from beginning of time till the end.
He hung there as all of the sins of every guilty man, woman, and child from eternity past to eternity future were dropped onto his shoulders. His Father, God, had chosen him to be the sacrifice for your sin, my sin, the sin of the whole world, and he hung there and took every blow, absorbed each attack, and endured each insult…without one single complaint, without one inch of resistance, without one moment of regret…The Prophet Isaiah poetically puts it this way:
He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.
Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared…
But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal;
It is finished…final…complete…done
Yeah, but you don’t know what I’ve done…but His hands bore the nails, to undo every wrong you’ve ever done, to prepare good works for you to do
You don’t know where I’ve been, the company I’ve kept, the path I’ve chosen to walk…but His feet were pierced, to give you a new path and a new way
But no one can even begin to know the thoughts I’ve had, the things I’ve imagined, fantasized, dreamt about…but the crown of thorns was smashed into his skull, to give you a new mind, to help you think pure thoughts
But the things I’m carrying around, the burdens that I can’t get rid of …but He was whipped as his back was torn to ribbons and bled so you could share those heavy burdens with him, you were never meant to carry them alone
But the feelings I have inside, the hate, the anger, the hurt…He bled from his side as a soldier thrust a spear through his heart so you could be renewed, transformed from the inside out, so that you could be given a new heart and new hope
It is Finished…
Galatians 3:13 NLT
But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.
It is Finished…
2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
It is Finished…
Romans 8:1 NLT
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
It is Finished!!!
My daughter with some killer thoughts!
There are so many storms that in this life we have to weather. Ranging from relationships, work, education, spiritual doubt, and much more. Our instantaneous reaction can often be to ask God to pull us out of the storm, to rescue us from all of these hardships we have to go through because surely God would not leave us in a storm that we could not handle, would HE? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I have learned recently that line of thinking is false. I know it is a little bit of a downer.
It says in James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.
“Pure joy..”, seriously?…
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By now I’m sure that you’ve heard about the incredibly tragic events that took place in Las Vegas. Not only is this deeply disturbing to us as a nation, it should be even more so to us as Christians. Many people, including the shooter, entered into eternity. The Bible tells us:
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment – Hebrews 9:27 NLT
Events like this shatter our personal feelings of immortality and safety. We tend to walk around in a cocoon of embraced ignorance believing that every day will end the same way it always has, and that each morning we will wake up to go through our daily routines. But, that is simply a facade, the reality is that it takes very little for these fragile bodies of our to cease functioning properly, or functioning at all.
Reports on the scene of the massacre say that a woman was walking around in the crowd just prior to the shooting telling anyone who would listen, ‘You’re going to die to today, you’re all going to die.’ I don’t know about you but that is just plain sick…but that could be true for anyone of us today as well. Today could very well be our last day on this earth, will you live it well? It could also be the last day for someone you love, do they know you love them? More importantly do they know that God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them?
I am in no way trying to be morbid or emotionalize something horrific, instead I’m hoping to stir your mind to action. If we can each begin to remove the blindfolds from our eyes and if we each begin to realize that our time on this planet is short and start making the most of every day then this tragedy doesn’t go without a positive outcome. We, by how we allow this to change our actions, can give some sense of meaning to an otherwise meaningless and evil event. Evil in our world isn’t new, and it isn’t going to end until Christ’s return. But, if we can take the Apostle Paul’s words to heart we can make a difference in the world around us:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV
Okay, I may come across as a little bit of a fuddy-duddy, but hear me out. Better yet, take a look around. No matter where you are; in a restaurant, waiting in line, sitting at the BMV, eating dinner at home…everyone around you is on their phones. Typically the younger the crowd the higher percentage of those who’s faces are hauntingly lit by the blue or white glow of their screens.
Much of what we are doing on our phones is ‘communicating’ with others. However, that communication is sterile, bereft of human contact or facial cognition of the little nuances and inflections when people talk. Those things tip the intent listener to at least a sliver of the motivation behind the words being spoken; joy, sorrow, sarcasm, pain, et al. Because of this emoji’s were developed, little icons meant to depict the emotion we are feeling at the moment to those we are texting, snapping, facebooking, and whatever other new thing is out there. We do this because we don’t want what we are typing to be misinterpreted. Sometimes we are honest, sometimes we simply saying something nasty and plaster a yellow teethy smiley face to cover up our ugliness,
All of this has led to a decreased ability for the average person to have a conversation with someone else, in real life, and ‘read’ their face correctly. It has also lead to an increased lack of etiquette and courteousness. Our texting patterns have lead to one word answers; okay, yes, no, later, maybe, which come out as cold, uncaring, and simply rude. For the average person, this isn’t good, for a leader its suicidal.
A leader is an influencer. Your conversations, attitude, demeanor, tone, looks, mood, influence either positively or negatively those around you. If you don’t look people in the eye, if you walk into a room and don’t greet people with a smile, if your answers are one word, clipped responses your being a bad leader…period!
I know, I can hear the pushback as I write this, ‘What if I’m having a bad day…I’m not a outgoing person…I don’t want to be fake…’
- First, everyone has an off day every now and then. I have off days, and if I blow it by being moody, cranky, or short with someone, I have to go an apologize to them, because I didn’t do my job well that day.
- Second, you don’t need to be ‘bubbly’ but you do need to be outgoing as a leader. By that I mean you can’t wait for others to approach you, your the LEADER for crying out loud! As a leader you are probably a little intimidating, even if not physically, more than likely in your persona. Ive NEVER considered myself scary or intimidating, but guess what, people (even my own family) tell me that I am, especially if people don’t know me. So, I can’t just sit back and wait for others to engage me, it allows negativity to breed and questions to brew, which undermines your cause.
- Third, I am so tired of hearing this garbage about being fake. You don’t have to pretend that everything in your life is peachy keen, but how about showing the joy of Christ on your face? How about the command, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”? (Phil 4:4) How about you getting over yourself, pulling up your big boy/girl pants and start being the leader that God’s called you to be?
You see as a leader your job is to help people be better, do better, to build them up. If you are so absorbed in your own personal issues that you cannot do that, then you need to stop pretending you’re a leader, your not. You are a dragger (my own made up word, followed by my own made up definition). A dragger is someone who is like a weight in a room. When they walk into the office everyone clenches waiting to see what ‘mood’ they are in that day. They are so concerned and consumed with themselves that they can’t or really won’t take the time to make those around them feel like they matter, that they are special. They discourage people without saying a word. I feel like this verse is written directly to the draggers out there masquerading as leaders:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
It’s so easy to show appreciation, gratitude, and kindness. To say hello, thank you, nice to see you…these are easy simple things. If you are a leader and you don’t do these things…you’re not a leader, your just some guy/girl with a title or position. Great leaders show and do these things, they intentionally make others feel important. Selfish, self-absorbed people don’t, they are too concerned with protecting or projecting their own perceived self-importance.
So, to all the leaders out there, take a page out of the life of Christ (He’s a pretty good example to check out), He walked slowly through our world for 33 years. He talked to the lowest of the low and the highest of the high. Everyone mattered, even those who hated him, hurt him, and conspired against him. He looked people in the eye, and asked people to look him in the eye. He never allowed his personal stuff to be an excuse to abdicate his role. Lead like Jesus this week!!!