Jamaica 2014… T-Minus 2 days!

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Last year, it was Haiti…this year we’ll be a mere 119 miles away in Jamaica.

This Sunday, we are taking 19 people (13 high school students, 5 leaders, 1 local expert) to Annotto Bay, Jamaica to support the Annotto Bay Gospel Chapel with some building projects and hopefully help with evangelism in the local area.

The team is very excited to go, some of us are traveling outside the country for the first time so this is an exciting event – one that we hope will open the eyes of many and also provide invaluable faith-boosting experience.   We have much to be thankful for already – God has provided all of our financial support, all of our supplies are purchased, we have been meeting together regularly for prayer and preparation. We have a great group going this year.

One of the things we did to prepare was go through the book, Let the Nations Be Glad, by John Piper.  In it, Piper writes, “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church, worship is.  Missions exist because worship doesn’t.”  The gospel message is literally “good news” – but, not only the good news of salvation from sin in Jesus, but the good news that we have a King.  A loving and sovereign creator God and our purpose is a life of passionate, joyful, obedient worship of Him.   This is a life that transcends circumstances and brings fulfillment, peace, and hope.

We would love for you to pray for us.   Please pray for….

  • Safety in travel and no hiccups thru customs
  • Protection as we work
  • Group unity, patience, humility, servant hearts
  • Opportunities to share Jesus
  • For the local church to be built up
  • That according to God’s riches of glory, he will grant us to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith…
  • Pray also for Pastor Ryan and another Green Pond Bible Chapel group traveling to Israel at the same time.

I cannot guarantee daily summaries as wifi may not be available, but I will try my best.  Stay tuned!

 

 

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Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship

mike ruel:

This is a very important read for all worship leaders.

Originally posted on Worthily Magnify:

1 Last week I spent a couple of days attending the National Worship Leader Conference , hosted by Worship Leader Magazine , featuring many well-known speakers and worship leaders. The conference was held about 15 minutes down the road from me, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I’m glad I went.

I met some new people, heard some thought-provoking teaching, enjoyed some good meals and conversations with worship leader friends, and experienced in-person some of the modern worship trends that are becoming the norm in evangelicalism. It was eye-opening in many ways.

Over the last few days I’ve been processing some of what I saw and heard.

Worship Leader Magazine does a fantastic job of putting on a worship conference that will expose the attendees to a wide variety of resources, techniques, workshops, songs, new artists, approaches, teachings, and perspectives. I thought of Mark Twain’s famous quote…

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The Massive Importance of His Sacrifice

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The bottom line is that what today traditionally represents, the sacrifice of Jesus, is massively important.

Everything hinges on who Jesus is and what he came to do.  There is much confusion – some say Jesus was a good teacher, a kind man, even a “perfect man” – and the usual answer to the question of what he came to do was “die on the cross for our sins.”  Why did he have to do that?

I’m thinking of (at least) our reasons why this day is massively important:

 

  1. Jesus’ sacrifice saved me from God.  Ephesians 2 tells us that we were all at one time, objects of God’s wrath because of sin.  God is justifiably angry with us because of our willful rejection of Him.  The amazing thing is that God makes the first move to reconcile us to Him by Jesus. We were saved from God by God.  As Propaganda says, “let that one bake your noodle.”
  2. Jesus’ sacrifice satisfies all of God’s wrath for my sin.  Jesus’ sinless life and sacrifice in my place, satisfies ALL of the wrath of God against me – IF I have understood this by faith and live a life of worship and submission to God.  That’s a big IF…because until you turn from your sin and to Jesus, your sins are not forgiven.  As John 3:36 says, “His wrath is still on you…”
  3. Jesus sacrifice took my sin AND my shame.  With sin comes shame, sometimes huge shame, guilt, grief, pain. Isaiah 53 says that the Messiah will bear it all.  Jesus is both fully man and fully God, therefore he understands all of the hurt and he bore it on the cross, and has the power to atone for it.
  4. Jesus sacrifice paves the way for life.  Without His sacrifice, there is no payment for sin, if there is no payment for sin, then there is no way to be forgiven.  But God just doesn’t merely forgive our sin – he takes our sin and in exchange gives us new life.  As Christ rose from the dead, we too – by faith – obtain a new life.  This is tremendous HOPE that goes beyond any seemingly hopeless situation – nothing can take that new life away.

Maybe this is the season when you make the most important decision you can ever make, one with eternal significance.  Turn from your sin and embrace what God has already done in Jesus by His sacrifice.  If you have already done so then dwell.  Consider.  Soak in the depth of this amazing, loving plan of God.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1–4 ESV)

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Q and A With Job

I’m up to Job in the yearly Bible read. (Side note, this is the first year I’m doing a 100% iPad read) and I was struck this morning by Jobs questioning of his misguided buddies with regard to the source of wisdom.

He says in 27:11 “I’ll learn y’all a thing or two.” (Little known fact: Job was a redneck)

He then goes on a bit of an extended discourse that centers around the source of wisdom. His central question is “what is the true source of wisdom?” (28:12 and again in 28:20) there is a mine for silver, copper, and iron, but where is the mine for wisdom? (28:1-2)

He answers his own question – and starts by saying that there is only one who knows its place – God.

“God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. (Job 28:23 ESV)

How true this is. How much time do we spend looking elsewhere for what can only be found in God?

The answer is to press into knowing more of God and reflecting Him in our lives. God can satisfy us in ways that nothing else can. Why? The answer is totally logical: that’s how he created us. I was reminded by Tozer this morning of the great quote by Augustine: “Thou hast formed us for thyself….and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee.”

As Job makes his summary point and answer to the main question:

And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28 ESV)

Looking to live a wise life? Looking for true and lasting satisfaction? Gods word tells us what to do: Consider God the utmost in our lives, submitting to Him in all areas, and moving away from sin. There is only one way to do this – the way He provided for us in Jesus.

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What is Man?

Psalm 8 asks a very important question rather bluntly-

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4 ESV)

When we look at Gods creation the proper response is awe. We then think, like the Psalmist, who am I? Not that this should lead us to despair and feeling like we are worthless – just the opposite. Consider two points:

  1. God has made us to rule over his Creation as his image bearers. We are all full of worth, dignity, and glory as He created us to be very special and to reflect Him in everything we do. The Psalmist continues – “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5, 6 ESV)
  2. If that isn’t great enough, consider now he has lavished His love and grace on us thru Jesus. You see, We turned from our “specialness” and rejected his command for us to reflect His image. Instead, we chose to live for ourselves and reflect our own image – whatever we decide that is to be. Gods response? Not immediate punishment for our rebellious treason against our Creator King, but instead, grace for today, and the chance to escape the future penalties for sin in Jesus. My friend Ryan posted this passage on Christmas and it is a fitting summary of Gods response “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4, 5 ESV)”

Our response to this gift is to then renounce our agenda for our lives and devote ourselves completely to living as God intended, for a His glory, not our own. If you haven’t done this yet, or are a believer who isn’t living like it, this seems like a great New Year’s resolution!

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What Did Jesus Come To Do?

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If someone asked you to tell them in one word “What did Jesus come to do?” what would you say?

 Maybe “die on the cross” or “help people”?
 I want to read 1 verse from Luke 4:18 which may help answer this question.  To set the scene a little, this is Jesus himself speaking publicly probably for one of the first times in the synagogue on the Sabbath…
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,”
(Luke 4:18 ESV)
Do you see any common ideas in this passage?  Liberty – literally a ‘release from captivity’ or a ‘release from a punishment or guilt’
I would suggest that this passage is telling us that the one word we could use to answer the question of what did Jesus come to do is “freedom.”   Jesus came for freedom.
The undeniable fact is that since the Fall, since sin entered the world, everything here is under the curse of sin. We are totally unable to fix the situation by our own power, and are only trapped in it. Trapped.  Prisoners.  Captives.  In need of being released – whether we realize it or not it’s true. Christmas is a great time, usually a happy time with family and presents – but for some it highlights the brokenness of this world – family drama happens a lot around Christmas, conflicts, hatred, bitterness, sins against family. Maybe you have been sinned against by your family and friends and being forced to be with them on Christmas just makes you more aware of that.
Will it ever be fixed? Can we just encourage you — all along, it has been God’s plan to provide freedom in the Messiah – the one who came on a mission to be the payment that is required to purchase our freedom.   You see, this verse, even though it’s in the gospel of Luke, it is really Jesus himself quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah – who hundreds of years earlier wrote about the Annointed One, the Messiah, the Christ will come for freedom. Jesus himself makes a bold claim and says “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled…”  meaning – “Hello…I am Him — – The Messiah.”  Talk about your controversial statements – the crowd was so angry after hearing him say this, that the Bible tells us they literally wanted to throw him off of the nearest cliff. (Luke 4:28-29)
The message that we celebrate at Christmas is the message that the long foretold Messiah has come to bring us freedom from sin, guilt and shame and live the abundant life he created us to by finding our true joy and purpose in our Creator – God.   You can be free this Christmas, and wouldn’t that be the greatest gift ever?

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Going Beyond

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In Matthew 5:43-48 is another well known passage where Jesus is teaching on loving your enemies.  Matt 5:44 says “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Bonhoffer in “Cost of Discipleship” clarifies enemies are those who have hostility against us, not necessarily those against who we have hostility against.   How we treat people in those situations says a lot about where our hope is based and how much we understand we have been loved by God in Jesus.

v47  is pretty key in understanding this concept – “and if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?”

Christians are called to go beyond what others do and say.  We are called to be different.  Called to stand out.  In all situations, we are called to glorify God.  This is different, “extraordinary.”  The temptation is to blend in, to not stand out from others.  Yet we see from the Word of God that we are called to “do more.”  This isn’t an effort based system of earning God’s favor, but if you are disciple of Jesus you are already accepted by God.  Now, we work to go beyond the norm, we avoid sin, we love our enemies — because of who we are in Christ.

If we are truly living our lives according to God’s word – we will stand out.  Sometimes this will be hard, as anyone who desires to live a Godly life will be persecuted.  (2 Tim 3:12).  We are not promised an easy, financially prosperous, and healthy life – no matter what the false teachers on the “Preachers of LA” say.

But, what we do know, is that a life lived for God’s glory is the most fulfilled life that one can have, because we are walking in obedience to our Creator, and living a life of love, and in that is the blessing of growing in Christ and being more and more filled with the knowledge of Him as we go thru life.  Only in that is true peace and joy.

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