This is excellent! Take the time to watch all 5 videos…
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This is excellent! Take the time to watch all 5 videos…
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I was eating lunch with Jonothan, our worship leader, yesterday and he mentioned something I thought was pretty cool. So, since Jonothan does not blog and he just tweeted for the first time yesterday, I think I’ll post this myself. I like the way our people at New Passion think…it is scary what God can do through our church, if people will simply step out and follow what he is leading them to do.
Jonothan was talking about some of the books of the Bible he has been reading lately and mentioned that he noticed how Paul would travel to the various churches and would share what was taking place within the other churches, he would send encouragement from the other Christians that he was with at the time to those he was writing letters to. An example can be found Here and Here.
Jonothan mentioned that it would be a great ministry for someone to go around to other churches, spend time with them, and to find out what God is doing in their churches, not to copy them, or to enact their strategies, rather so they could come back to their home church and share the good news with their fellow believers. I believe it would be just as important and powerful to know how to pray for those other churches as well. Someone would not have to physically go to the churches, with Skype, Twitter, email, and phones, we could easily connect with a contact within the church that could speak for their body.
It’s funny. We’ll get on the internet and see what series another church is doing. We’ll go to conferences to see what new strategies and philosophies we can enact. But, if we can, we’ll take it and claim it as our own. I’m not pointing the finger, I’ve done it myself. However, I am trying to do a lot less of it. I want God to do new things through me and through New Passion, so I don’t want to bottleneck us where we are so reliant on doing what everyone else is doing. I think we as a church need to be willing to share what God is doing all over the world, through other churches. If it’s truly not a competition we should be willing to encourage our believers with what God is doing with the believers next door and in the next town.
Anyway, no telling what will ever come of this idea. I think it was a great thought. It’s definitely something new. I don’t know of anyone else who is taking time or giving space to spotlight what God is doing in other churches, but we sure like to brag on ourselves.
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Last night at our launch team meeting we looked at two contrasting visions in the book of Acts. One is found in Acts 19 and the other in Acts 17. Here are a few of my follow up thoughts and main points to the devotion:
About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. 24 It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. 25 He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows:
“Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. 26 But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! 27 Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis-this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world-will be robbed of her great prestige!”
28 At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” – - – 40 I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” 41 Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.
Demetrius had a vision. His vision was for his own personal gain. He had an agenda to have a successful business and to make a lot of money. The worship of the false goddess, Artemis, is what fueled Demetrius’ towards achieving his vision of a successful business. Demetrius was smart because he played on the emotions of his employees. He understood that a man will do whatever he has to do to provide for his family, so Demetrius painted a picture that Paul was taking there ability to provide for their family and to make money by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus. Two things stick out about Demetrius and I believe we can say the same thing for anyone who pursues their own agenda over God’s vision:
In Acts 17:3-9, there is an opposing reaction to God’s vision and movement. Check it out…
He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” 4 Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.
5 But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. 6 Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. 7 And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”
8 The people of the city, as well as the city council, were thrown into turmoil by these reports. 9 So the officials forced Jason and the other believers to post bond, and then they released them.
Christ’s movement was increasing through the influence of Paul and Silas. Many people were placing their faith in Jesus Christ. Jason caught this vision from God and through his actions we can see a couple of things that is evident when we embrace God’s vision for his church and his people:
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I’ve been hunting for treasure lately. It’s amazing how much I’ve already found, its only been small amounts here or there, but the amazing thing is…the more smaller ‘pots of gold’ that I find the the hungrier I get to find the big treasure chest!
This is where I have been lately…
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. 2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. 3 Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. 4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. 8 He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. 9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. 11 Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. 12 Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those those words are twisted… 16 Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman. Proverbs 2:1-11 (NLT)
I love this scripture, it challenges me everytime I read it…”Search for Wisdom, understanding, and insight like I would for silver or for hidden treasure.” I don’t do that…I have been lately, but I don’t want it to be a lately thing, I need it to be an everyday thing! The older I am getting (and yes it is happening…I found 3 grey hairs Saturday) the more I am realizing I need God’s wisdom, his understanding, and his insight. As a husband, a father, a Christ Follower, an employee, a church member, a citizen…you name it and I need wisdom to accomplish it or to lead in it. So I am on a treasure hunt for what I believe Solomon thought was the most valuable possession, Wisdom!
I love what scripture promises if we search for wisdom, my thought is, what if we searched for it like it was hidden treasure? I mean passionately, whole heartedly, recklessly sought after wisdom? That’s what I need to do!
[Wisdom] “I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me…For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 8:17, 35 (NLT)
Join the Conversation: If you’ve learned one nugget of wisdom in your life that would benefit someone else, what would it be?
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If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and he will repay you! Proverbs 19:17
I found this verse interesting. People always talk about being ‘the hands and feet of Jesus’ to help those who are in need, but how about the ‘bank of Jesus?’ I think a lot of us look at giving to the poor in terms of what we have financially, we make comments like, “When God blesses me with extra, then I can give to others.” However, I get the impression that God works like this, “You give from whatever I’ve already given you, and then I’ll repay you based on your kindness.”
To me this puts a new perspective on Matthew 25:40 (MSG) where Jesus says, whatever we do to those overlooked and ignored, we do it to Him. Proverbs is saying that we are not giving our money to the poor…we are giving a loan to God, he’s just predesignated that he wants the money to go, and he wants it to go to those who are overlooked and ignored. This promise from Proverbs is not limited to “Christians.” I see tons of secular businesses that are very successful, and many times if you look behind the scenes they are highly involved in charitable giving. I just think the Church should be leading the way…
This is personally something I have to work on. My family is definitely not rich, but that cannot be an excuse! Join the Conversation…What do you think? Is God’s credit good enough at your bank?
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“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)
I was reading in Romans 5 this morning, and this portion of Chapter 3 stood out to me…”we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Over the last three to four years it seems that I have faced more individual sufferings, trials, and tests than I ever have in my life. The question that popped into my head as I read this was, “Have those issues I have dealt with produced perserverance, character, and hope?” – “Four years and now on the other side of some of these things, have I increased in these areas?”
In my eyes I may say no! Because I live with my imperfections everyday, but my hope is that in the eyes of Christ I have and in the eyes of others, they will see that the Lord has grown me, stretched me, and matured me in perserverance, character, and hope!
Join the Conversation: Are you seeing perserverance, character, and hope being formed in your life? Care to share how God is doing that?
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Here’s a little video to entertain you for the next 60 seconds. Kind of makes me think of a 60 second video Bible drill. One of my former students sent it to me on my MySpace Account:
Click HERE for more videos by Barats and Bareta
Join the Conversation: What’s Your Favorite Story in the Bible? Or, What is Your Favorite Book of the Bible?
My favorite book has always been Daniel and my favorite story is the one about the Warrior Ehud…he was the left handed warrior that stabbed King Eglon in the stomach and his fat swallowed the sword. (Judges 3) – I am left handed and I’ve got to support my left handed brothers!
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My church (the church @ greenbrier) jumped on board with the ONE Prayer Campaign as other churches were finishing up, but I am glad that we did. I love hearing our pastor when he shares God’s Word with us, but there was something special with the messages that we were treated to during the last 3 weeks, I truly believe Jesus gave Craig Groeschel a fresh idea of His vision for His church. This week, we watched the message by Craig, “Lord, make us ONE!”
Craig started the basis of his message with Jesus’ prayer from John 17:20-24. Pete Wilson is starting a series on relationship surrounding verses 20 & 21 of chapter 17 in the fall, I can’t wait to check those out on Cross Point’s website. I am sure that series will be just as powerful as this message, and people’s lives are going to be changed because of it. Here are some of the highlights and my thoughts at the end, take a couple of minutes and check it out:
“We always want Jesus to answer our prayer, but what if we (Christians/the Church) decided to be the answer to Jesus’ prayer?” – Craig Groeschel
What will it take to unify the church?
1. If Christians/the Church recognize we have ONE ENEMY! Amen & Amen!!!
**Satan is that ONE enemy, not other churches or other believers.** We all have ONE thing in common, the same enemy! (1 Peter 5:8-9) (John 10:10)
2. ONE HEART! Christians/the Church can have different methods or manners in which they do ministry; there is power in our diversity, but we should be united in our passion of making the name of Jesus famous, because it is through Jesus that those who do not know him can be saved. We are not called to be uniform in style and preference, but to be united in Love. (**My Note: I wholeheartidly believe this, but only when it does not cross the line into doctrine of the Gospel and of God’s Word**) (John 13:34-35 – “Love One Another”)
**Christians/the Church should be united. When “I” get out of place, united become “untied” (which is the state our churches are in), but when “I” is in its proper place we have “united.” – We must stay aware of whether we are in our proper place or whether we are not.
3. ONE PURPOSE! (Matthew 28:19-20) “Go and make disciples” – Church in greek is “ekklesia” which means “called out ones” (**Personal Note: Why do we allow personal style and method preferences stand in the way of this one? No matter which version of the Bible you read or what denomination you are a part of, this teaches and reads the same, so on this point alone, why are we not united here?**)
I encourage you to go watch the video HERE. The illustrations, stories, and videos that were shown with this message are great! I really enjoy messages like these, because growin up I saw and heard so much division due to personal preferences over styles and methods. Through a disagreement on these things people came to conclusions about doctinal beliefs of other denominations or churches that were not true, thankfully I have learned to explore & question on my own and to allow the Lord to free me from the legalism and the bondage these people put me under. I have seen first hand how these things divide the Church Jesus said He was going to build versue building it up and uniting it. I believe the greatest thing is at risk by our churches being divided over petty issues, People’s souls!
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A saint is not to take the initiative towards self-realization, but toward knowing Jesus Christ. A spiritually vigorous saint never believes that his circumstances simply happen at random, nor does he ever think of his life as being divided into the secular and the sacred. He sees every situation in which he finds himself as the means to obtaining a greater knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he has an attitude of unrestrained abandon and total surrender about him.
- Oswald Chambers
How many times has something gone crazy in our lives and we immediately start taking a self-inventory of the things we may have done wrong; the sins we may have committed to bring such pain, torment, and suffering upon ourselves? How much time do we spend sitting around thinking about what it is that ‘we’ can do to overcome the circumstances and the situations our lives are in? Each process is simply a step towards self-realization and a step away from a vigorous life of abandon to the cause of Christ.
So did that situation or that issue just happen at random in your life? Is that how we look at our present state of affairs? If you are like me, you start questioning the steps you took to get to where you currently are: ‘If I only would have ignored that email.’ ‘If I only would have turned right instead of left.’ ‘If I only would have…” Issue by issue we act as if it all happens by random chance. I am not speaking as if God brings every situation in our path. I truly believe that we do lead ourselves in many of the directions that our lives take. My thoughts are focusing on when we face these issues and circumstances whether God delivered or self caused is how do we view our journey while in the midst and what is our viewpoint on the backside when we have come through it.
Oswald Chambers proposes that a spiritually vigorous Christ Follower looks at the issues in his life not as a random occurrence, but as an opportunity to grow in our knowledge of the One we say we follow, Jesus Christ. This is a step away from self-realization and a step towards total reliance on Christ. This is not easy, in fact it is very difficult. However, any situation (whether self caused or God led) can serve as an opportunity to know Christ more.
“Lord, I was just lied to, betrayed, stabbed in the back, and wounded…reveal yourself to me!”
“Lord, my parents are going through a messy divorce…reveal yourself to me!”
“Lord, I lost my job and cannot pay my bills…reveal yourself to me!”
“Lord, my child has has abandoned you for the world…reveal yourself to me!”
Oh, how this is easier said than done. If it were up to us, we would remove every circumstance and issue that required faith on our part, we would settle for everything we could handle on our own and only for the things that we could provide an answer for. Christianity is a faith life and that faith leads us to rely on someone who is greater than we are when life is not the way we like it. This faith life is not for the prideful; surrender requires humility to understand that we are weak when standing on our own, but through the life of Christ that indwells us, we can make it to the other side. In the end, do we strive to make it on the other side to say ‘I beat an illness?’ Or to say ‘my marriage was restored?’ Or is our motive to say ‘Now I know Jesus a little more.’
I have recently experienced some things in my life that are rather confusing and I am asking Jesus, ‘how can I know you more through this?’ But also, with a new baby on the way and uncertainty in my ministry and career path, I want to get to the other side and be able to say, ‘I know my Jesus a little more now!’
Join the Conversation: What are you facing right now, that in the end will lead you to know Jesus even more?
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A Blog Pirate: Someone who tries to steal the spotlight from a more successful blog in order to make their blog noticed and to increase their traffic stats.
This is usually done by pointlessly criticizing posts in order to drive traffic to their blog. Most blog pirates surf the “What’s Hot” on the front page of blog hosts (I.E. WordPress.com) hunting their next victim. They also search through the tags pages to see what blogs have the most comments (thus a high level of traffic) and rips into the author of the blog and/or their content. If you have ever crossed a Blog Pirate you will see why they have to steal the spotlight, its usually because their content is not good enough to draw their own crowd and keep them.
Blog Pirates know that most authors will defend their content thus linking to the pirate and driving their readers (traffic) to the pirate’s site, they also know that when people search for key words pertaining to the victim’s blog in Google the searcher will be driven to the pirate’s blog as well, thus attracting extra traffic. Blog Pirates are interested in one thing, signing on to WordPress and immediately going to their daily stats and seeing how many hits they had that day…nothing more, nothing less.
Watch it! You may be hijacked by a Blog Pirate today
Join the Conversation! Have you ever been attacked by a Blog Pirate? Know anyone else that has? I’ve been attacked and I know others that have been attacked as well.
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