Maundy Thursday 2017

Have you ever had to tell someone ‘good bye’ not knowing when or if you would ever see them again?

I remember the day that I left for college.  I had just turned 18 and was excited about beginning the next phase of my life and making new friends.  Yet, as soon as I said good bye to my mom and sister, I began to cry uncontrollably.  (I know this is hard to believe for those who know we now, but it really did happen.)  I was leaving all that I knew for the unknown.  I was leaving the comfort of all the relationships I knew.  It was tough.  

On Maundy Thursday we see Jesus doing just that.  He was saying ‘good bye’ to His disciples and closest followers.  He was leaving them to go be with the Father.  He was leaving them so they can fulfill the mission that He was sending them on.  If he stayed even after dying on the cross, the disciples would have just piled up wherever Jesus was and would not have spread the Gospel around the world.

Here’s the upside of saying, “Good bye.” When someone leaves or you leave, you are breaking the comfortable to step into new opportunity.  It’s not easy.  It’s not something you want to do every day.  However, it’s exactly how God propels us forward in life and uses us to share the Gospel.

Are you having to say ‘good bye’ to some things or someone?  If so, don’t just see the pain and loss.  See the opportunity that God is going to bring from it.  The new relationships.  The new moments to share Christ.  The personal growth that you will experience as you have to lean more on Him and less on comfortable relationships and familiar surroundings.    

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Holy Wednesday 2017

Betrayal.  We’ve all faced it at one time or another.  It may have been a friend that turned their back on us or a spouse that walked out on their vows.  No matter what the betrayal was it hurt.  That’s what betrayal does, but that is not the only thing it does.

On Wednesday of the last week of Jesus’ life here on earth, we see a scene taking place that happens outside of Jesus’ presence.  This scene is where Judas gets the payoff to hand Jesus over the religious leaders, so they can kill him.  This is betrayal at it’s very worst.  A friend gets paid to betray another friend.  Here’s what happened…

“Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.” (Matthew‬ ‭26:14-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Yet, this betrayal didn’t just hurt it also brought about God’s plan.  That is the other side of betrayal.  God is able to take our betrayals and use them for our good.  Even though betrayal hurts it also can be used by God to bring about His plan and purposes for our lives.

You may be wondering – how can that be?

Here are a few of the good things God has brought from betrayals in my life…

1.  He allowed me to be raises in a great church and hear the Gospel preached on a regular basis.

2. He called me into ministry and allowed me pursue my training and education debt free.

3. He made it possible for me to stay pure and meet my wife – who has put up with me for over 20 years.

4. He made it possible for me to plant a church and meet so many more folks that I would never have met.

5. He has shown his provision to me over and over when man meant to do me harm.

Everyone of these things and much more happened after a devastating betrayal.  I am an eyewitness to the fact that God brings good things from betrayal.  It doesn’t feel that way in the middle of the chaos and pain, but when you get out of the valley you can clearly see what God has done.
Are you facing betrayal right now?  Has a friend, co-worker, boss or spouse hung you out to dry?  I want you to know that this is not the end.  God has a bigger and better plan that He is working out.  This pain will only last for a little while.  So, keep your eyes on Jesus.  Keep walking by faith.  He will show you how He can take betrayal and bring about something so much better.

Holy Tuesday 2017

On Holy Tuesday we see that Jesus dealt a lot with the religious elite of his day.  We find his interactions in Matthew 23-25. One of the primary things we draw from these interactions is that Jesus viewed these folks to be hypocrites.  I know that is a strong word, but it was true.  They literally said one thing and did another, which makes them hypocrites.

The truth is that we all struggle with hypocrisy.  We claim to be followers of Christ, but we struggle at times to follow Him as we should.  So, today I want to share a few tips for all of us hypocrites (I didn’t intend for that to rhyme, but it did so I’ll just leave it there for your enjoyment.). Here we go…

  1. Admit that you are a hypocrite.  Over and over God’s Word reminds us how important admitting our sin is to us finding victory over sin.  If we would all admit it, we can then be able to do something about it.
  2. Spend time with other recovering hypocrites.  We are told throughout the Bible that we should gather with other believers to worship and grow in our faith.  Guess what?!  Other believers are hypocrites, too.  So, relax when you gather with them, they are struggling with the same stuff.  The only problem is that not all of them have admitted that they are hypocrites.
  3. Read about how to overcome hypocrisy.  I am not advocating a new self-help book.  God’s Word is filled with teaching on how to overcome hypocrisy and walk in honesty and humility.  If you want to you could start with what Jesus told the religious leaders in Matthew 23-25.
  4. Talk to God about your hypocrisy.  Ask God to show you areas of your life where you are a hypocrite.  Ask him to show you how to walk as He walked here on earth.
  5. Never get comfortable with being a hypocrite.  Learn to hate your hypocrisy as God does.  When you start to hate it, you will be a hypocrites that much less.

I hope this helps you this week.  The fact is we all are hypocrites.  We all need God’s help.  No one is perfect.  We all need God’s guidance along the way.  It all begins by admitting we need His help.

Holy Monday 2017

On Monday – after Jesus’ powerful and electric entrance into Jerusalem – we see another powerful moment take place.  A moment that again shows the difference between fans and followers.  A moment where Jesus calls us to His plans and mission for the church.  It is found in Matthew 21:12-13.  Check it out below.

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”” ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭21:12-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Here we see folks gathered in the temple selling sacrifices and trading money for temple money all to make a huge profit.  They were literally using God for what they could get from Him.  This is a struggle for many of us in the church today.  We tend to use God for what we can get from Him.  Sure, God wants to give us good gifts, but that is not the point of our fellowship with Him.  The point is for us to learn to glorify and enjoy Him forever.

So, Jesus sees this scene and He does something about it.  He gets rowdy.  He turns the tables over and gets their attention.  When they are looking at him – probably ready to fight – He tells them that His house is supposed to be a house of prayer.  That’s the point of our fellowship with Him.  That’s how we learn to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.  It’s prayer.  It’s simply talking to Him and spending time with Him throughout our day.

So, as we reflect on Holy Monday, where are you at?  Are you just going to church to get something?  Is prayer an integral part of your daily life?  If not, I would like to challenge you to take a moment right now and pray.  Ask God to reveal your heart and help you to recommit to walking with Him and being a person of prayer.

Palm Sunday 2017

Have you ever been to a concert or sporting event that was electric?  I am talking about high energy and a roaring crowd.  There is something very special, powerful and even exciting about an event like that.

As Jesus road into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey nearly 2000 years ago the city was like that.  Folks were shouting Hosanna and laying down their cloaks or palm branches.  It was a powerful moment.  Yet, it was a moment that draws a line in the sand.  That line is the line between fans and followers.  At this moment in history we see two kinds of folks gathered around Jesus.  We see fans – those who were just caught up in the moment- and we see followers – those who were with Jesus to the very end.

The truth is that not much has changed.  There are still those of us who are fans and those who are true followers.  The difference is about a a changed-life.  The difference is a surrendered life to Jesus and His mission.  The difference is between those of us who are only seen following Jesus in a crowd, but not when things get rough.

Where do you stand right now?  Are you a fan?  Are you a follower? Take a moment and read Matthew 21:1-11 to see where to stand.

If you are a fan, Jesus is calling you to much more than Sundays and church services.  He wants you to experience a life surrendered to Him for His glory.  If you are a follower, take the opportunities this week that God gives you to share His Gospel with others.  Also, don’t forget to invite someone to an Easter service with you.

If you don’t have a church home and live in the Memphis, TN / Oakland, TN area, I would like to invite you to join us this Easter – April 16th – at 9:30 AM or 11AM.  For more details, check out our website – www.betherevolution.com – and visit us this Sunday.

Sunday Sermon Recap – 01.29.17

Defeat is something that we’ve all faced at one time or another.  It may have been at a kid’s baseball game.  It may have been while trying to assemble the latest thing you bought at IKEA. It may have even been a relationship that completely disintegrated. Bottom line – we all know how defeat feels.

When we feel defeated our tendency as humans is to do several things – get depressed, dive into our coping method of choice or – worse yet – become utterly hopeless about ever finding victory again.  If this is you, then I have some really good news for you today.

IT’S NOT OVER, GOD’S NOT DONE WITH YOU YET!

I apologize for screaming, but this news is just too good not to shout from the mountaintops.  God is not done with our lives, when we face defeat.  The story has reached it’s final chapter when everything falls apart.  To be honest, it has just gotten interesting.  At the point of our defeat, God is writing a better story.  A story  of comeback.  A story of resurrection from disaster. All he is asking us to do is to join him in the process of the comeback.

How do we do that?  What do we do we comeback from defeat?

Let me take a moment and mention a comeback story in the Bible that is all about this very subject.  It is the story of the disciple named – Peter.  He was a rough a tumble guy.  A fisherman by trade, but Jesus called him out of that profession to fish for men.  When Jesus called Him, Peter was on fire.  He even said that he was willing to lay down his life for Jesus.  Yet, in the darkest hours before the crucifixion we learn that Peter ended up denying even knew Jesus on three separate occasions.

How do you come back from that?

Well, in John 21:15-19 (ESV) we see the resurrected Jesus help Peter on his comeback journey.  Here is what happened…

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” 

Here we see two important things for a comeback from defeat.

#1 – You’ve got to fall in love with Jesus all over again.

Often after a painfully defeating moment in our lives, we lose sight of our relationship and fellowship with God.  In v. 15 we see that Jesus begins that loving and gentle calling of Peter to fall in love with him all over again.

For me this very thing happened with in the last year.  I experienced a very difficult betrayal in my life and ministry.  A person I trusted betrayed my church family in a very bad way.  It nearly brought an end to the church.  It caused me to consider doing something else with my life.  The biggest thing it shook was my fellowship with God.  My relationship with God came about praying for my survival rather than simply being in God’s presence.  By God’s grace the last year, God has brought me back and reminded me of my first love – HIM.

 

Here are three quick tips.  First, spend time daily in prayer, but make sure you have a plan or you will pray like 2 minutes and start playing on your smartphone.  Second, read the Bible.  You will need a plan here as well.  You can find plenty on YouVersion.com.  Third, spend time with other believers.  Get involved with a small group bible study and stay committed to it.

Is this all? By no means.  Here is the rest of the story.

#2 – You’ve got to learn to follow Jesus step by step.

This is the tough one, but as we look back at this encounter that Peter had with Jesus we discover a simple process that helps us all learn how to follow Jesus one step at a time.  Let’s check out John 21:15-17…

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Here we discover a process whereby we all can learn to follow Jesus.  It goes as follows…

STEP #1 – LOVE HIM

STEP #2 – HEAR FROM HIM

STEP #3 – OBEY HIM

This what Peter did and many other in the Bible and throughout the Christian faith.  We fall in the love with Jesus.  He begins to reveal his will to us.  We obey Him.  We fall in love with Him more.  The process keeps going on step by step.

Here’s the thing.  This is tough at first.  After a while it gets easier.  The things is you can’t stop seeking after the Lord.  Once you do, it’s like starting all over again.

So, if you are feeling defeated today, keep pursuing God.  Don’t let you defeat lead you.  Don’t let depression overwhelm you.  Keep moving forward by God’s grace.  He will sustain you.

Oh, don’t forget.

IT’S NOT OVER, GOD’S NOT DONE WITH YOU YET!

Sunday Recap – The Comeback Kid – Part 3

Death is something that we all must face.  It is an annoying and ever present part of life that keeps coming back over and over again.  We see it in the death of cell phone that will no longer keep a charge.  We experience it in the death of a relationship that has gone the way of neglect and apathy.  We feel it as we lay a loved one to rest at a graveside.

As a result we all fight death.  We do it in our own ways, though.  Some of us fight it by trying to eat healthier and exercise obsessively.  Others fight it by going to the doctor’s office at a rate that makes our insurance company nervous.  And still others fight death by trying any and every spiritual path to understand death.

However, nothing we do can stop it.  Nothing we do can overcome it.  Sure, we can hold it off a bit.  We can even prolong our lives, but in the end dead comes for all of us.

I know at this point.  You are tempted to click out of this blog post, and try to find something more cheerful.  Please don’t.  What I am about to share with you is the cure for death.  This cure is found in the midst of the most powerful comeback story of all times.  It is found in the life of Jesus.

Jesus is God’s Son who left the comfort of heaven, came down to earth and wrapped Himself in human flesh.  He was born to a virgin named Mary.  He grew up in ancient Israel in a Jewish home.  He began to teach the scriptures at a young age.  At around 30 years of age he began to teach, preach and heal folks publicly.  This teaching upset the religious establishment, so at around 33 years of age they falsely accused Him and had him crucified.  Yet, that wasn’t the end of the story.

After three days in a borrowed tomb, Jesus rose from the dead.  This was unusual to say the least.  Jesus himself had performed some resurrection, but His own resurrection was not expected at all.  At least not by the those who carried out the execution.

So, what does this comeback story have to do with us?

In 1 Corinthians 5:20-28 a guy named Paul (who has his own comeback story) helps us connect the dots.  You can click on the scripture reference to read it for yourself, but let me summarize it real quickly. The resurrection of Jesus signals that…

GOD TAKES DEAD PEOPLE & BRINGS THEM TO LIFE THROUGH JESUS.

Let me break this statement down a little more.

GOD TAKES DEAD PEOPLE…

Who is dead, and why are they dead?

In 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 Paul shares with us that as a result of Adam and Eve eating of the fruit in the garden we are all dead.  What he means is that we are all dead spiritually and we will all die one day physically.  We can try to put that date off some, but it will come for all of us (Hebrews 9:27).

Why is this?

We are dead because of sin.  We are dead because of our own sin. That lie we told last week.  That pack of gum we stole as a kid.  That person we hate and wish was dead.  All that stuff is what has caused this death problem.

What can we do about it?  

That leads us to the next part of that statement.

…& BRINGS THEM TO LIFE THROUGH JESUS.

In 1 Corinthians 15:22 Paul makes the following statement – For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection can be ours as well.  We can experience a comeback from spiritual death.  We can comeback from doing al the stuff we do to ignore the fact that we are spiritually dead.  We can be alive.  I mean really alive.

How do we do this? 

We do this through acknowledging our sin (AKA deadness), crying out to God for forgiveness and surrendering our lives to Him.  To put it more simply let me share with you one of my favorite verses of scripture.  It is Romans 10:13Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Do you need to do that today?  Do you need to comeback to life?  Are you tired of struggling with the same sin, struggles and addictions?  

You can comeback.  It all begins with admitting you need a comeback, crying out for God’s help and surrendering to His plans. God will take it from there.

Remember…

GOD TAKES DEAD PEOPLE & BRINGS THEM TO LIFE THROUGH JESUS.