Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 9: Tell Your Story...

The unfortunate truth for the church today is that many people will never share their faith with others. There are lots of reasons why this happens. Some people feel that they don't know enough, some are afraid they will offend and others think that they will face rejection

I love this story from John 9 about the man who was born blind and was healed by Jesus. You would think that everyone would be excited that someone who had been born blind could now see. But this was not the case. This, however did not stop the man who was healed. He had a story to tell and he did not care what others had to say. He knew he WAS blind but NOW he could see. I'd be excited about that...

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:24-25).

Tell your story, it's the one thing that you know with absolute certainty. Tell how God is at work in your life-you are an authority on you. When you do that you will be amazed at how God will use that in the lives of others.

Life Way Research recently published an article entitled: Americas Open to Outreach. They surveyed over 15,000 people who do not attend church and found that almost 2 out of 3 would be open to a conversation about faith and church if it came from a family member, friend or a neighbor. 63% of the people you come into contact with would be open to hearing your story and a spiritual discussion. The article goes on to say that the fact that Easter is only a few days away is another reason to tell your story.

So, my question for you is this: Are you telling your story? If not, why not? God will use your story to influence and encourage others. And with Easter coming up, this may be one of your best opportunities to do so. I'm praying for that chance today as I interact with those God brings into my path.

What about you? I would love to hear how you are sharing your story and what God is doing... It's your turn.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 8: Stop Throwing Stones...

John 8:1-11

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. (John 8:7-8)

Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. This is probably one of the most well known portions of the Bible. It is well known because of the audacity of the Pharisees to bring the woman, who was caught in the act of adultery, to Jesus. (I've always wondered why they did not bring the man who was with her if she was caught in the act). It's well known because their motives were not concern for the woman or for what was right, but their concern was to trap Jesus. It's also well known because of the way that Jesus responded to them and to her.

It's easy for me to get upset and angry with the Pharisees because of the way that they treated this woman. It's easy for me to want to throw stones at them for their self righteous attitude. Why is it so easy for me to become like them?

It's easy for me to be quick to criticize others and think I am the one who is so right.

It's easy for me to belittle others and judge them.

It's easy for me to make fun of them.

It's easy for me to want to see others "get it" because they "deserve it".

Why is it so easy for me to do that? I think it's easy because, like the Pharisees, I want to feel good about me so I tear down others. Just like the bully on the playground I want to make others look bad so I can feel good. And, at that point my motives are no better that those of the Pharisees.

I am so glad that Jesus did not get drawn into their little game. Instead, He stopped and took some time to think. He made the point that we all need to take a look at ourselves and our own sin before we are so quick to start throwing stones at each other. Sometimes I allow my ego to get in the way of loving God and loving people.

That does not mean that we have to agree with everyone or never love people enough to point out their sin and shortcomings. Jesus certainly cared enough for this woman and the Pharisees that He did not throw stones at either, but lovingly pointed out where they were wrong.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” No one, sir,” she said “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:9-11)

I need to take a look long at myself first and make certain that I do what I do because I love God and I love others. Not because I want to look good and be right...

It's time to stop throwing stones...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day Seven: Are You Thirsty?

One of the things that advertisers know is that we are thirsty people. So, they play into the thirsts and desires that we have. We have all kinds of products out there that promise us life and fulfillment. We have all kinds of celebrities and beautiful people trying to convince us that we can be satisfied if we just buy what they are selling.

I have to admit that there are times when I get sucked into their promises and buy what they are selling. Only to be disappointed after I get it because it does not bring the satisfaction that is promised. How about you-I bet this has happened to you at some point?

But Jesus makes a promise to us with only one condition...

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38).

The question I ask of us is this: Are you thirsty?

If you are, where are you looking to have your thirst quenched?

Have you been disappointed lately with the things that have claimed your attention?

Do you find yourself thinking, if only I had this or that, then I would be satisfied?

Jesus makes an amazing promise to those who are tired of running after all of those things to find
fulfillment. He says "if you are thirsty, come to me and drink." When we do he promise us that we will not only find life for ourselves, but we will also become a source of helping others find it as well.

So, are you thirsty today?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

John 6: Where else can we go?

John 6 records the Feeding of the 5,000: one of the most amazing chapters in his gospel. Many people began following Him, not because they thought He was the Son of God. They followed simply because they wanted to have their stomachs filled. Jesus wanted them to know that in order to follow Him it would require they give themselves completely to Him as the Son of God, not just someone who could give them food to eat. Some of what He said was hard to understand and difficult to follow. As a result many left him. It was more than they bargained for. Jesus wondered what the twelve disciples would do.

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69).

I love what Peter said to Jesus when He asked him if they wanted to leave. Peter said Lord, where else can we go? You have the words of eternal life and we believe and know you are the Son of God. Peter was saying, Lord we seen to much, experienced things we never thought possible. We may still have some questions, but one thing we know is that you are indeed the Son of God and where else can we go? Where else would we want to go?

I don't know about you, but there have been times in my life when following Christ has been hard to do. There have been times when I have had questions that could not be answered, there have been situations that I thought I would never face and answers I could not give. There have been some moments when I have wondered if it was really worth it. (Can you relate?)

But then I remember all that God has done in my life. I remember all that I have seen and experienced and these words that Peter spoke have been words that i have come back to over and over. And I have to say the same thing that he does. "Where else would I go? Where else would I want to go? Jesus is indeed my only hope for this life and for the one beyond.

I don't know all of the answers, everything doesn't always make sense to me. I don't know all there is to know, but I do know one thing: that Jesus is indeed the Holy One from God and He is the one I can trust with all of my life even when I can't get it all to make sense. I give myself completely again today. Where else would I go?

What about you...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 5: Jesus Equal to the Father

Jesus was always challenging the status quo among the religious community. Not just to upset them, but because He cared for people. The Jews became upset with Jesus because he healed a man on the Sabbath. They were far more interested in following man made rules than in observing God's law to love and care for people. They became upset when Jesus called God "My Father" because in so doing he was saying that he and the Father were equal. Then Jesus said these words...

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does
(John 5:19).

Jesus did not deny their claim that he was making himself equal to God. Instead, he wanted to make it absolutely clear that He was equal to God. The fact that he could heal was just one clear indication that His claim was indeed true.

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)

He goes on to make it clear that life, eternal life, comes through Him.

I can rest in the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and that life comes from believing in Him. This message should be an encouragement to us and is one that we must make clear to others as well.

Your thoughts....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 4: The Focus I Need!

John 4:
John gives us another action packed chapter from the life of Jesus. There is a lot here to think through for your day. This is what caught my attention:

"My food", said Jesus, "is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)

There are a lot of things that can claim my attention during the day. Some things are good, some not so good and some things are better than others. There are things I like to do and some that I have to do.

Jesus was saying that the thing that sustained Him was doing the Father's will. He was saying that the thing that gave Him life, even more than physical food, was to accomplish what God had called Him to do. His greatest joy was to always please His Father more than anyone or anything else.

I can't always say this about my life. (Maybe you can relate?) Sometimes I find it easier for other things to become the focus of my life. I find greater satisfaction from doing what others want me to do or what I would rather do, than to always focus on doing God's will in my life.

My prayer for today is that I will focus my life on accomplishing my Father's will and allow that to not only be the focus of my life, but mt greatest joy and satisfaction as well.

How about you?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 3 More and Less

John 3

There are several things that catch my attention in this chapter. The conversation that Jesus had with Nicodemus about being "born again" and Nicodemus trying to understand what He means. Then there is perhaps the best known verse in all of the Scriptures:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

But there is something the John the Baptist said that grabs my heart today. John's disciples were upset that Jesus was also baptizing people and that many people were beginning to follow Jesus and leave John. They thought it would bother John as well. However, they were wrong. John had a much different perspective of his role here. John understood that his role was to point others to Jesus and he knew that ultimately meant that Jesus' ministry would grow and his would shrink. He was not upset, nor was he bothered about it.

He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30)

This verse always challenges me. I want to have the humility and grace that John has. I do want Jesus to become greater and I become lesser, but I often allow my ego and pride to get in the way.

I often want to make it be about me and not about Jesus.

I often have a hard time celebrating when I see God blessing others in a way that I am not.

I want to receive criticism well.

I find it much easier to say this than to live it.

But, I do want to live it.

My prayer today is that others would see more of Jesus and less of me. Jesus must become greater and I must become less. If you want to know how to pray for me, this is it.

So, can you relate? How do you deal with this in your life? Your thoughts...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 2

I love the way the John tells us about the life of Jesus in his gospel. John focuses on several miracles that Christ did while he was here. I think it is very interesting that His first miracle occurred at a Wedding Celebration. First of all, Jesus chose to be at this wedding and then he chose to step into a very embarrassing situation for the host. (Running out of wine during this occasion was a tremendous social no no!).

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so,and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” (John 2:7-10)

Jesus chose to turn water into wine at a public celebration and it was really good wine!!! In fact, those who were there said it was the best. Evidently Jesus thought there were some things in life worth taking the time to celebrate and enjoy. Doing this can be a big challenge to me. I love to celebrate, but I often find myself focusing on the next thing that needs to get done and not taking the time to stop, enjoy what God has done and celebrate. So, today, I am going to take some time to celebrate what God is doing.

I celebrate that I have the most amazing wife and children and will take the time to tell them so. I celebrate that I get to work with an amazing staff who loves God and people. I celebrate that God has brought me and Kim to "do life" with some of the greatest people in the world at the Bridge Church. Wow, I am so blessed and today I CELEBRATE.

How about you? What do you have to celebrate and enjoy? Your thoughts...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 1

We live in a fast paced world with more things to distract us than anyone can count. Often our time alone with God gets overlooked and pushed aside. I want us to do something about that in our lives.

Yesterday, I submitted the 21 Day Challenge to our church and was pleasantly surprised at how many responded indicating they would be participating (I got the idea from a friend of mine in ministry). I am thrilled!!! We will be reading through the Gospel of John one chapter each day-leading up to Easter Sunday, April 21.

Let me give you some background to the Gospel of John:

It was written somewhere between AD 80-90. John tells his purpose in writing, "... these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name" (John 20:31).

In order to accomplish his purpose, John tells us about seven miracles in his gospel to prove that Jesus Christ is the Son of God: turning water to wine (2:1-10), healing a nobleman's son (4:46-54), healing a paralytic (5:1-9), feeding the 5,000 (6:1-14), walking on the water (6:15-21), healing the blind man (9:1-41), and raising a dead man from the dead (11:1-57).

To further prove Jesus is the Son of God, John records seven "I AM" statements where Christ affirmed that He was God: Bread of Life (6:35, 41, 48, 51); Light of the World (8:12); the Door (10:7, 9); Good Shepherd (10:11, 14); Resurrection and the Life (11:25); the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6); and the True Vine (15:1, 5).

I will attempt to post some of my thoughts and ideas here as I read each day. I would love for you to add your comments as well so that we all can share in this experience and learn from each other. So, please join in the conversation....

Day 1: John 1

This verse grabbed my attention today:

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

Jesus did not come to be a great teacher, although he was an amazing teacher. He did not come to be a great example on how we should live, although he lived a life that was absolutely pleasing to God. Jesus came for one reason to become the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. John recognized this and it changed his life. Jesus came to sacrifice His life and take away my sin. And this has changed my life forever. He is my only hope for salvation and the forgiveness of my sins. I can live in the freedom that comes from knowing that I am forgiven. My prayer is that I would live in this truth today and allow God to use me for His glory.

Your thoughts about John 1...

His Masterpiece...

Yesterday was another great day of worship at the Bridge as we had worship artist Kreg Mebust join us. It was the 4th week in our series: Unstoppable. The title was "His Masterpiece and we focused on Eph. 2:1-10. Check out this link (http://www.thebridgereno.com/media.html) for the message and to view the incredible art work that Kreg created during each service.

Paul wants us to understand where we have come from, what God has done in our lives and what he is now doing with us. Listen to these amazing words.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Eph. 2:10 NLT)

We are God's Masterpiece for the world to see.

A masterpiece brings glory and honor to the artist not to the art.

A masterpiece tells us a lot about the one who created it.

Each masterpiece is unique-unlike any other.

As followers of Christ, we are God's Masterpiece to the world. We show the world how the grace of God changes a life and what God can do with lost, broken and messed up people. We are to demonstrate good works in the world that point to Him. These are good works that God had planned for us long ago. Good works that make a difference.

Here are some questions for us to consider this week:

How often do you think of yourself as God's Masterpiece?

If you truly believed that you are, how would it change the way you view what God wants to do in and through your life this week?

What gifts and talents do you have that God has given to you?

What good works is God calling you to do today? Who is God calling you to serve? Who is God calling you to love and share your life with?

As we understand and embrace our calling as God's Masterpiece, we will see God's glory displayed and will be an Unstoppable part of His Kingdom in this world.

Your thoughts...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Difficult, but Necssary Decision

By now most of you at the Bridge know that we have decided to cancel our Missions Trip to Mexico. Our missions team leaders began to wrestle with this after a travel alert was given by the state department a few weeks ago. This was a very difficult, but necessary decision.

It was difficult for many reasons. One because our love for and involvement with Mexican Medical Ministries for quite some time. Another because we had more people signed up to go than ever before and this would have been the first trip for a lot of them. Finally, we love the people there and were looking forward to sharing our lives with them for a few days.

So, after much prayer, lots of advice and input, the decision was made to cancel the trip. We felt the risks of going at this time outweighed moving forward. Our main concern at this point is for the safety of our people, especially since we had several students who were going. Our desire is to put together another trip there as soon as possible. We will keep you informed.

Please join with us in praying for Mexico and those who are ministering there at this time. We know our God is in charge and He will honor His name despite the turmoil and violence going on there. He will build His church.

There are times when following God means that we should take risks and there are times when we should not. I wonder what your thoughts are on how to know the difference when you need to make such a decision. I would appreciate your comments...

Entering in…

Okay, I’ve finally made the decision to enter the blogging world. (I know it's about time...) I know there are a lot of voices out there adding their thoughts and insights and I believe that it is time for me to do the same.

Some of the thoughts that I will share here will relate directly to what God is doing at the Bridge Church here in Reno and how we can continue to grow in our relationship with Him. Other thoughts will relate to issues in our community, state and world and some will be my own ramblings about what God is doing in my own life and family as I seek to take the next step in my walk with Him.

Please feel free to add your comments along the way. I want this to be an interactive dialogue where we can learn from each other. My hope and prayer is that the thoughts and ideas that are shared here will be used by God to encourage and challenge you as you take the next step in your journey with Him. I look forward to our time together.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 at 8:33 am