My wife and I don’t have kids…Well, we do if you count goats. We have about 25 of them. (Give or take 5 or 6 at any one time.) We also have, we have between 60-100 free-range chickens. That means the chickens are free to wander wherever they choose. The hens just love to cackle after they’ve laid an egg. When the weather is nice, and we’re outside in the afternoon, it sounds like an egg-laying factory! They lay multi-colored eggs so, at our house, every day can be like Easter! My brother, Brad, was born with Downs Syndrome. I always say he was the most perfect example of unconditional love I have ever known. He loved all the holidays and Christmas and Easter were his favorite. We had Easter egg hunts at our house until the year he died. He was 34 when he passed away… I miss him, brand new clothes for Easter morning and those Sunday afternoons. Many times, Mom would have the crock-pot going while we were at church. When we came home, the whole house would smell like pot roast, potatoes, and carrots… Easter is about new beginnings, salvation, hope, joy, and family. The years march on, and God brings new people into our lives. We find new friends and new families. And, when you are ready, new salvation. New forgiveness. New life. My thought(s) for your week: Easter is coming! He is alive! You matter to God! Get to church! Get plugged into His Family!
So, this is a phrase I recently heard. From what I see, it pertained to teaching in general and originated from Professor Alison King of California State University. It can first be found in From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. Alison King; College Teaching, Vol. 41, 1993 pp 30-35. Some of you teachers out there are probably saying, “That’s been around for a long time.” I love this image as it pertains to Jesus. At times throughout the New Testament we do find Him as “the sage on the stage” but never separate. For most of His ministry, He was the “guide on the side.” And aren’t we thankful that 2,000+ years later, He still is! Church on Sunday morning should never be about some person on the stage feeding us little bits of inspiration. The worship experience should never be built on the ability of the preacher to preach…However, all of us have our favorite singers, and for good or for bad, even I have pastors I love to hear. We are all fundamentally, relational and it boils down to the fact that we connect to those who best fit our personality. Ultimately, the minister, pastor, preacher, “sage” should be deep in the process of learning and growing right along with the congregation. I will gladly say, “I have no idea,” when I really…just have no idea. There are so many elements and parts and pieces of God’s magnificent creation where we have no clue as to underlying reasons, motives, causes.
Scripture for your week: Colossians 3:16 (NIV) Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
For the next three Sundays, we are going to talk about finding purpose. We all have looked in the mirror at one time or another in life and asked, “What am I here for?” “What’s my purpose for living?” It’s a question I have asked many times throughout my life. Last Sunday we talked about no matter what you ultimately decide as your purpose, it has got to begin with Christ. Everything you do needs to be firmly rooted in Him before you ever start out on your journey. Every conversation you have has to have Jesus woven into its fabric. The words you speak and the actions you make show the world that you are either walking with God or away from Him.
My Thought for your week: We are only here for a flash of time and there for a REALLY long time. What higher purpose could you need that following Christ?
Just think about this: we don’t pray to a God who has no idea how we feel or has no idea as to what we may be going through. Our God knows. He knows for two very real reasons:
He has dealt with billions of us people over the years. If you just think about that in terms of experience and information; what a massive “database” that would be
He has been here and done it! He has been through whatever you are feeling!
In the book of Hebrews 4: 15-16 the author writes, 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We believe that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three manifestations of the same. The “Three-in-One.” God came here as a man, experienced all the feelings we have; anger, frustration, sadness, joy, anxiety, pain and sorrow. He knows what you are going through “first hand.” When you say, “God I am sad…” Believe that he knows how “sad” really feels. When you say, “Lord, I’m struggling with temptation” know that He knows what temptation can feel like.
My Thought for Your Week Communicate with God. Pray every day. Pray without ceasing. Know that He truly knows what you are feeling.
In December of 2018, I talked about the fact that “We are Legos.” The idea here was that all of us come with a limited amount of connection points. We have connections with family, work, friends, etc. When all of those connecting points are full, we struggle to find room for more relationships.
Here’s another thought about how we are Legos: As Christians Jesus calls us to get connected to God. He even cleared the way so that we can, truly, connect to God. We are called to become a piece of the Body of Christ. We are called to do our part in the workings of the Church. We are Legos in that we come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. God calls us as we are, where we are, and how we are. Each one of us connects to the Body of believers with our own uniqueness, experiences, personalities, flaws, quirkiness, backgrounds, struggles, likes, dislikes, ugliness, and beauty. None of us are saints. None of us are more worthy of playing a role in Gods house than anyone else. The building labeled “church” is just a place to gather and worship. We are the church. In my mind, I see a multi-colored, Lego church where everyone is welcome, and everyone plays a part. Unity and Diversity in the Body 1 Corinthians 13: 12-14 (NIV) 12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
The image here is a 65-foot tall church-shaped public pavilion for the 2011 Grenswerk Art Festival in Enschede, The Netherlands.
Several years ago, I owned an ornamental iron and sculpture company. We created lots of unusual things. (Click the button below and see the giant bugs in the Downing Children’s Garden at Botanica, Wichita, KS) We painted most of the pieces we created with specialty finishes and very concentrated enamel paint. Many times, I would get the paint on my hands and found that, even though it washed off my skin easily, sometimes it really stuck to my fingernails. One day, in a grocery store, I realized that the paint on my nails made people a little uncomfortable. I thought to myself, “Hmm. This could be fun…” Over the years I’ve had lots of fun making people wonder. Today, I call them my “Jesus nails” and here’s why: When was the last time you talked to someone you didn’t know about Jesus? Opening a conversation about our Savior can be a pretty hard thing to do. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want people to think “Oh, here we go with the “Jesus” thing again.” Talking about Christ can really put us on-the-spot and may even cause us to have to follow up with that person. When people ask me or make a comment about my nails, I say this, “These are my Jesus nails. They remind me to treat you with respect, love, and kindness just like Jesus tells me to do; with no judgment, no condemnation. Jesus loves and takes you just as you are, how you are and where you are.” Research has shown over and over again that non-believers see Christians as condemning, judgmental and intolerant. That is terribly sad. This world is hurting, fractured and fighting and needs to see our Savior for what He really is; love, hope, forgiveness and open to everyone!
My thought for your week: Find your own way to start a conversation about Jesus this week. Turn your “Jesus switch” on and be ready to share the most important thing you can – Jesus loves everyone just as they are.
I know that most churches have some form of youth ministry, but I just wanted to talk about ours briefly. I am proud of what this small church has done with its Awana program over the years. It’s a ministry which started long before I arrived. Every Wednesday night of the school year, for 12 years, our Awana “Commander,” Kelly C. Boylan and the many dedicated volunteers have helped loads of children make new friends, learn about life and all about Christ. They study the Bible, play games, eat hamburgers and hot dogs and grow. They grow so quickly! There are usually 20-30 kids and 20+ volunteers! This year the middle school and high school kids have formed a new youth group called “Revolution Youth.” We did a little remodeling of a couple of classrooms, and the kids picked out the name for the program. The preschool and elementary school children are still rolling as Awana, and it’s still pretty noisy here on Wednesday nights! Hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone! A lot of people here have put loads of time and energy into this ministry. I’m excited to see what the next 12 years will bring!
Last week I gave you a question to think about. The main thought in the question was this: Could you take the place of Judas? If you missed the scenario, there is a link to last week’s article at the beginning of this discussion. So, if you could go back in time and Jesus asked you to follow Him as Judas you would have loads of things to consider. I think this question could lead into a very long book…but I’m not going that deep. Obviously, not here. First off, in this scenario, both of you know where this is heading. You know as much as Jesus as to how this story is going to play out! In the original story, Jesus knew what was going to take place; Judas did not. I’ve asked several people this question over the last week and here are some of the thoughts we’ve come up with:
If you say to Jesus, “I will not!” then you might be just flat out refusing to walk with Christ.
You may not even fully understand why Jesus was here, to begin with.
I’ve had people say, “No. Because he betrayed Jesus and I would NEVER betray Jesus!”
OK…But, If Judas hadn’t betrayed his teacher Jesus would not have gone to the cross. Or, at least when He did.
I’ve had someone say, “I would make sure He was not crucified…Oh, no that doesn’t work either does it...”
I’ve had people say, “If I say yes then the world will despise me forever.”
As we read in Matthew 27:3-10, Judas repented and took back the thirty silver coins. He was so remorseful that “He went off and hanged himself.” As Christians, we forget that Judas loved Jesus and he repented. As sinful people we leave out the thought of forgiveness; we want Judas punishedfor what he did. We also don’t think about the fact Jesus called Judas and knew what was about to happen. He knew that His crucifixion was the plan all along. The whole world could not have salvation without it.
Judas played a major role in the events leading up to the world’s salvation. We say, easily, that we will go to our death for Jesus! I say that’s an easy thing to say because Jesus laid down His life for us. He has the ability to reward us with everlasting life. If we could take the place of Judas, knowing what we know now, we would be laying down our lives for the world. And, it would come without any acknowledgment from that world which doesn’t deserve salvation and doesn’t have any way to repay it. In the end, all of the Apostles died terrible deaths. They gave their lives for the world, in Jesus’ name, so that the world would know Christ.
So here is a question I came up with last night. It goes like this: Say you are a scientist/engineer and you have invented a time machine. And, the time machine actually works. The very first place you decide to go is back to the time of Jesus. You are a faithful believer and follower today and are excited to go back to actually hear Christ and see Him in person. And, when you arrive you land at the very beginnings of His ministry. You find Him, follow Him and are listening to Him teach with all the other people. Suddenly, Jesus stops talking to the people and He turns to you and says, “Judas Iscariot, I am very glad you could be here today. Follow me.” You say, “Lord, you are mistaken I am not Judas…” To which He replies, “I am not mistaken. Follow me.” Would you do it? Would you follow Jesus as Judas Iscariot? Knowing how the story unfolds, would you take the place of Judas? Think about how things will wind up for you. Think about how things wind up for Christ. Think about how things wind up for the rest of the world. Think about your answer and what it says about your perspective, presumptions and understanding of what it means to “follow” Christ. How does this question effect how you think about Judas? I’m going to let you think about that and then we’ll discuss more next week.
I grew up listening to country music back in the day. I could tell you about all the original Grand Ole Opry stars; most of them long gone by the time I was in my teens. In my album collection, I even had a few old Johnny Cash records. I picked up several of them from West High School where my mother taught English. They were getting rid of some of the duplicates in their library collection.
I, obviously, never met Johnny Cash and what I know of him is from his book, TV, a 1970’s documentary, interviews and the most recent movie about his life.
What I see appears to be a man truly walking with God and in a continual struggle to keep his personal life in check. He battled with addictions and many other issues we will never know. I see what I believe is a real, “open book” life of a Christian. All of his successes and failures were out there for the world to see. I see a common man, just like me, trying to do his best to stay upright.
In my own life, I follow Jesus. My mind is set on Him most of the time. I can see the “right” path and I’m on it…and then I stumble. I take my eyes off Christ, and I fall…And Jesus waits for me. He gives me strength and stands me back up, forgives me…and we continue the journey.
Ephesians 1: 6-8 6 Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! 7 For by the blood of Christ[c] we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, 8 which he gave to us in such large measure!
My Thought For Your Week: Be real. God knows your heart. Open it up and give it to Him everyday.