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bringing the light of Jesus to a dark world John 8:12

Straying

11/29/2010 11:45:00 PM

Came across and interesting piece out of the Bible tonight.

Paul is standing before King Agrippa and giving testimony to his own life and how Jesus intersected it. He is telling the story of Jesus meeting him face to face in a brilliant and blinding light on the road to Damascus. Jesus gave him specifics of what he was to do with this new found truth. We pick up the story in Act 26:18 as Jesus is speaking to Saul (later he becomes Paul) "to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'"

Paul was given specific instructions FROM
Jesus on what he was to be doing.

As we pick up the story in verse 19, we see that Paul followed through with Jesus' plan for him. "Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance."

Paul did not stray from the word that Jesus gave to him. I'm sure he had plenty of opportunity in his ministry to listen to the voices of so many others. Maybe even good voices, maybe even godly voices, but yet he kept fast to the word JESUS gave him!

Staying firm to the word that Jesus gives you can be unpopular, especially when it has to do with preaching repentance, turning to God AND performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. That is evidenced in verse 21 when Paul says, "For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me."

The Church, as well as the world, is full of voices. Good voices and not so good voices. Voices of reason and voices of distraction. As a follower of Jesus you must remember the word (job, mission, purpose, etc.) that Jesus gave to YOU. Not what the voices are wanting you to do.

Before he stood in this position in front of King Agrippa, Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:4, " but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts." Not to please man…but to please God. Paul knew, long before his speech in Acts, that pleasing God was his only desire. He knew that the word of Jesus was powerful enough that it was all he needed.

I'm NOT saying that taking in the godly advice of godly people should be dismissed. Not at all. I am saying, however, that straying from the word that JESUS has given you will only lead to disaster and heartache. For a great example of this, please see the story of Jonah.

So how do we guard against falling into this trap?

First, stay in the presence of God. The end of Jonah 1:3 says "So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord." In contrast to that, Acts 9:11, "and
at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying."

Second, never forget the word of God. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 puts it this way, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." In other words, REMEMBER!

Third, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. When we love someone that much, we could never walk away from what they ask. A great source to study this more is a book by Mark Batterson titled Primal.

What are a few other things you can think of that keep us from falling into this trap?

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Lessons from the lake

8/07/2010 06:25:00 PM

Spent day one of several days on the lake today. Just a chance to reconnect with Jesus and a chance to harvest a few of the fish He created. And actually I did both today.

On the fish side of things I got 2 keepers and played a couple others. Fishing is much more fun when you are catching.

As I'm sitting in my kayak in the middle of the lake I noticed something. Paul, the Maddog fisherman, was anchored in his kayak. Happily fishing and also doing quite well. I started out close to him but very slowly I was drifting away. Not noticeable at first, but soon I realized the scenery was changing. So I would paddle back over to him and start over. Oops, same result.

Wow, in life it is so the same way. Without being anchored we just drift however the world may blow us. Not fast, not obvious but still drifting away. And it may not big huge sin issues. Could be just the way we do church, or more often...not being the church, the hands and feet of Jesus.

We are encouraged in John 14 to stay attached to the vine. Then, and only then, are we able to stay in the place God wants us to be.

Attach yourself to the Vine today. Set aside time to get to know Him. To hear Him. To learn to love Him deeper and find out how much He loves you.

How do you stay attached to the Vine?

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2 Little Nuggets

5/11/2010 10:40:00 AM

I love the little things that the Holy Spirit drops my way in hopes that I hear them and then respond. That has happened twice in the last couple days.

I was watching a documentary about a wheat farmer and the relation it had to the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). The elderly farmer was going through the whole process from picking the seed, sowing the seed, watching it grow and finally to the fruit bearing stage and harvest. He made a comment, almost in passing, which just struck me, "To see the fruit you can't weary and give up." Yep, in a half-hour worth of watching him talk about wheat, those few words hit me like a brick.

I know I fall into that trap of wanting to see the fruit NOW! The fruit of my own life as well as the fruit of those that I lead. I have to realize that it takes time, it's a process. That doesn't mean that the wheat seed can sit in the ground for 20 years and continue trying to convince those around it that "it's a process. It takes longer for some people." No, there is a natural life cycle of growth. The fruit doesn't come overnight, but there still has to be constant growth taking place. Otherwise, I believe that is called death. I came to realize from that farmers statement that I can't give up tilling and planting, fertilizing and praying, watering and weeding. To see fruit, however long it takes, I can't grow weary.

I am blessed to be surrounded by a great group of leaders at New Hope. Last night we were praying together and one of our men was praying for me and mentioned the story of David trying to wear Saul's armor (1 Samuel 17). He asked God to show me that I didn't need to try to wear someone else's armor for the battle that I'm in, just be comfortable with the armor that God has chosen for me to wear.

Do you know how many times I have heard this similar prayer or comment? At some point you would think I would get it. I can't be anyone else, I have to be me. The man God created. He made me the way He made me and for a specific reason. I need to be content with the armor that was designed for me. I can't move as well in someone else's and I won't be as protected either. God has designed each of us for a very specific reason, and we are the only ones that can do it.

I'd love to hear from you.

Are you becoming weary in the waiting? Have you been planted for way too long and it is time to grow?

How comfortable are you in the armor (the calling) that God has chosen for you?

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God of this City: Baptism in the Holy Spirit

4/27/2010 03:56:00 PM

I look at my childhood, and as much as my parents drove me nuts sometimes and I think my dad was so wrong in much of what he did, I still had parents that loved me. They truly wanted the best for me and continued to guide me in what they thought was best. They never abandoned me and made me figure out life on my own. I am so grateful for them for this gift of love they gave me. This empowering they gave me for my future. And now it is my turn to do the same with my kids.

How wonderful it is to know that God, as the perfect Father, has done the same for us. Knowing that we needed a Savior He sent His only Son to die for us. Then, still thinking ahead for us, knowing that we weren't going to make it on our own when Jesus was physically not on earth with us anymore, He left us the Holy Spirit. The very Spirit of Jesus left for us; to guide us and empower us in life.

Jesus tells us that he won't leave us as orphans but will send us a helper.

Jesus' final words on earth were that he wanted us to be his witness in this world and that he would give us the power to do it. To give us the power to live the life that he commanded us to live.

John 15, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, tells us the secret to living this Spirit filled life. Jesus tells us to abide in him and he will abide in us! Oh, yeah! Not only does he want us to live a Spirit filled life, he also gives us the way to do it! Now that's good parenting.

See ya Sunday at 10am for week three in the God of this City series. This week: Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

How have you needed or relied upon the power of the Holy Spirit during your life?

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God of this City: Divine Healing

4/23/2010 01:25:00 PM

We are continuing our 4 week journey through some of the foundations that we must understand about ourselves as the Church and also how that relates to the world around us. As Jesus said in Mark 2:15-17, He didn't come for the righteous or for the well, He came for the unrighteous and the sick. In other words, Jesus didn't come just for the Church to get fat and sassy, He came that the world might know Him. Part of that process is that He wants to partner with us, His Church, and work through us so that the world would come to Him. His manifest power seen in us by this world will change this world forever!

This Sunday we are talking about Divine Healing.

It is interesting how the world tries to respond with its false version of healing. The ancient Eastern religious practices as well as the newer New Age practices are all in direct contradiction to the authority of God. Interestingly enough is how so many of these practices have slid into the church completely unseen or at least uncared about. I think it's time to point some of this out and call false gods false gods!

We are going to see that Jesus was well established as the Healer. How the prophecies of the Old Testament point to Jesus as the healer, and how through His ministry He proves that to be true. And that His healing was not just for then, but for now as well.

Some tough questions always arise when we talk about healing. The "why" questions. Why does God heal some and not others? Why are some healings instant while others take a long time and even need doctors? Why should I keep praying even if God doesn't seem to listen? Why…

We are going to try and answer these questions with a story from my cousin Jennifer and her husband Mark. Mark was diagnosed with MS when he was 9 and has such a great story that needs to be shared. The healing that took place in his life is mind blowing!

We are believing that God is going to do a work in us on Sunday. We are going to come to Jesus for healings. If you are in need of healing (and don't just think physically) or someone you know is needing Jesus to heal them, maybe New Hope is the place to be for you. We aren't going to have a special speaker who is gifted in healings. We aren't going to have special mood music. We aren't going to try and pray the right words. We are just coming to Jesus with faith!

I can't wait for Sunday! See you at 10 am.

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God of this City: Salvation

4/17/2010 01:44:00 PM

We are starting a new series this Sunday, God of this City.

We will be looking at 4 important values to us as a church. Salvation, Divine Healing, Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the Second Coming of Christ.

As important as these are TO the church (universally speaking) these are also important for the world around us. As Jesus spoke in Mark 2:15-17, He said that the healthy, or the righteous, don't need the doctor it's the sick, or the unrighteous that do. These are truths that need to be shared with a world who is desperately seeking truth. Desperately seeking healing. Desperately seeking power. Desperately seeking hope. What Jesus has to offer is not just for the church to feel warm and fuzzy, it is for those who are dying without what we have.

We believe that God is not done here in Northport (or whatever city you may live in). We continue to believe that God is still the God of this city.

This week we are looking at salvation.

I have found that every person falls into one of these 3 categories regarding salvation:

  • Those who should know the truth but don't
  • Those who don't know the truth but should
  • Those who do know the truth and need to grow

Do you have all the Biblical knowledge crammed into your mind, but no revelation of who Jesus truly is?

Have you only heard a little of Jesus, or maybe nothing at all, and are waiting to be presented that truth?

Have you accepted that truth but have just stagnated in blissful assurance of your salvation?

Let's talk about this on Sunday. In fact I would love to hear your thoughts here in the comment section of this blog.

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The Joy of the Mission

4/06/2010 06:50:00 PM

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. – Apostle Paul (1 Cor 15:14-19)

Not being ones that are called to a futile faith, but ones who are called to life and life to the fullest (John 10:10), we as Christ followers often seem confused between the two.

Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the fruit of the Spirit. In other words, what our lives as Christ followers are to look like, and one of those is joy. Cheerfulness as the Greek word truly means. Something that is not determined by external forces or circumstances, but determined by internal forces…the power of the Holy Spirit. Determined by the fact that we have a living God who resides inside us!

With this in mind, we need to respond to the mission of God with joy.

The mission comes out of the joy of Jesus' resurrection, and our joy comes from fulfilling the mission

The mission is to "go and make disciples" and the joy is that we serve a risen savior.

What has your response been to the mission?

Is your joy dependent on external forces?

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Fresh Perspective on Sacrifice

4/02/2010 04:28:00 PM

Just had a facebook conversation with a high school friend of Amy's. He is in Iraq right now. He says it's pretty dull right now, but prayers are still a good thing. I told him that I have a church full of patriots who love to pray, and asked him if he had anything in specific we could pray for. This is what he said, and this is from the heart of a battle-hardened soldier who has had many trips to the East.

Absolutely, I'd say for my family first, my wife, daughters and son, I know my wife's life isn't dull when I'm gone.

Powerful! Not only is he sacrificially battling for us overseas, but he shows his true warriors heart by selflessly asking for prayers for his family. He could have asked for anything, but that's his heart.

He shared with me many stories about how God is using him as His mouth piece while he is deployed. Stories of praying with the children of the area. Stories of his buddies giving him grief about his faith, but then not being able to deny the power of prayer that has saved their lives. Stories of how the Christian church is alive and active even in the middle of an Islam controlled area.

A truly humbling and life changing conversation for me. It gives a new perspective to the sacrifice that Jesus gave to us as we remember Him on this Good Friday.

Please pray for him as well as our other men and women around the world who are fighting for our freedom!

This is his name and information.

Jayson Rivas

I'm with 5th Special Forces, 2nd BN out of Fort Campbell

I'm a medic 18D is my MOS

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Final Thoughts

3/23/2010 05:18:00 PM

As we finished up our Lives Under Construction series on Sunday, we were left with a few final thoughts. A few from the Apostle Paul and a few from me.


 

In case you missed Sunday, slept through it or just have a memory somewhere along the lines of a goldfish, I wanted to give you a little of my Final Thoughts on this series.


 

It's taken a lot of time (Aug 16 – Mar 21)

    Building a good house that will stand the test of time takes a long time to construct. You can't have just a good foundation OR a good structure, you have to have BOTH, and that takes not getting sloppy in the end. And the Psalmist says it "If the LORD doesn't build the house we labor in vain." Psalm 127:1.


 

The act of construction is only part of it

    Now with a structure up, let's use what we have. James 1:22 says to be doers of the Word not just hearers. We must use what God has built. Use it, or lose it! Building a house and not living in it is a waste of time, money, effort and is just sad. How much more catastrophic is it to not use the life that God has built for us?


 

Continue to learn how to use your life to the fullest

    Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:6-7 to fan into flames what God has given him. To not live with a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind. The three questions to ask yourself are:

    What has God built into me during this series?

    What has God spoken to me to be about?

    What am I doing about it?

Even if you haven't been a part of this series, these are good questions to ask yourself. Oh, yeah, and answer them honestly!


 

Don't stray

    This was by far the biggest topic Paul kept hitting on, sound doctrine. From the beginning of 1 Timothy to the end of 2 Timothy. Most Christians won't slide and start attending a satanic cult, but they will start blissfully walking just one degree off the path of sound doctrine. Many have been lost, even some from New Hope, just because something sounds better, easier or more popular than what is being taught. Sticking to sound doctrine is not always easy, but it's always best. We must protect ourselves, our families and our churches from false teaching. How do you do this? Study the Bible. Not some guy's book or internet teaching. Study the Bible. What is it that God is saying, and then stick to that.


 

God's Blessing on you

God blesses those who walk with Him. Thanks not why we do it, it's just a bonus that comes with obedience. Paul left Timothy with a blessing in verse 22 of chapter 4. I too leave us with a blessing. Not from me, but from God.

"The Lord  bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them." - Numbers 6:24-27


 


 

I pray that we continue to allow God to build us into what He wants, and then for us to respond through love for Him in obedience.

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Do I?

1/26/2010 03:57:00 PM

Small town boy sitting in a big city. There have been more people walk past the window of this sandwich shop in the last hour than live in Northport.

Do I know these people? Do I know their stories? No. Does my heart break like the heart of the Father's breaks? I think so. I want to climb into these people's lives. I want to know what makes them tick, what their past is and what they think their future is. I want to share that Jesus is their hope their future. I want to cry with them, laugh with them and dream with them. It seems so romantic.

But I flash back…do I know the people of where I live? Do I know their stories? Does my heart break for them like the Father's does? Do I want to cry, laugh and dream with them? Do I want to share with them that the hope and future they look for is in Jesus?

Am I blooming where I'm planted?

Are you?

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Dangling By the Rope of Life

1/25/2010 11:10:00 AM

The old adage of "I'm at the end of the rope" is addressed in scripture.

We have all repeated this saying in one form or another throughout our life. Emotions, relationships, finances, stress, school, job, whatever. It is something that we are supposed to think is normal or just a part of life. The fact that we are so weak, so done and have nothing left to rely on. God doesn't think so.

I once had to rescue Ken, my oldest, from the side of a cliff. He was dangling about 20 feet over a pond. His little hand desperately clinging to a tree root. He thought, and mom thought, that death was a certainty. He wasn't sure how long he was going to be able to hold on. All the onlookers weren't sure how long he was going to hold on (of course none of them stepped in to help either!). He was clinging with all he had to that root. As myself and a friend stretched ourselves over the edge and I reached out my hand to him, he gladly took it. He was now clinging to something he trusted…me. As I pulled him to safety he was so relieved that he wasn't having to do the work. I became a hero to him that day as he clung to my hand. What every dad wants, to be his son's hero!

Psalm 63:8 says, "My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." If you are clinging to the rope of life, no wonder there is no strength left. When we redirect our energy to clinging to God and we let His strength uphold us, the world changes for us. When we put our hand in his and allow Him to do the work, allow Him to be our hero, what a relief comes.

How can we make sure our soul clings to Him? I want to hear your thoughts.

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Blogs that help you grow

1/06/2010 10:43:00 PM

I love preaching. Like passionately love it. I don't know how good I really am, but I have never fallen asleep during any of my sermons! That's pretty good.

If you ask any pastor, one of the tough things is how you stay fed when you are the one filling up other people's plates. (Quick personal side note…it is not your pastors job to feed you. Just their job to put it on the plate.) I have found a way to help keep myself with a plate full of food that I can chew on. I thought maybe I would share some of the blogs that I visit on a regular basis. These blogs help tremendously in my life.

www.evotional.com Mark Batterson is an innovative pastor at NCC in WA DC

www.withoutwax.tv Pete Wilson is a great leader out of Nashville

www.leadingsmart.com Tim Stevens is a fresh thinking pastor/leader in Granger, IN

www.ronedmondson.com Ron Edmondson is a church leader for the Kingdom of God in Clarksville, TN

www.blog.marshillchurch.org Mars Hill, with Pastor Mark Driscoll, is shaping the future church from Seattle, WA


 

These are just a few blogs that I follow. They all have links that you can follow so you can listen or watch their teaching. I would recommend you checking these guys out.

Are there blogs that you follow and you would recommend? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Asotin, WA, United States
Follower of Jesus, husband, dad, and called to be His torch bearer to the world.
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