Pressed To Impress

A great word from my Pastor.

Mike Wehde

I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.   1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Are we sick of Smart Phones yet?

smart-phone-cartoonI was on a trip last week to Arkansas and everywhere from the airplane, to the Tram Ride, all the way to baggage terminal people were glued to their Smart Phones.  What were most of them doing? (I spied)  Most of them were just exploring Gigabytes upon Gigabytes of information – news feeds, media outlets, movie clips, and interesting trends for the day.  Oh….and ME TOO!

View original post 734 more words

Advertisements

The Cross – ONE Series

Drawing-of-jesus-christ-on-the-cross-desktop-wallpaper-image

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

I believe this passage really speaks the truth about this current generation. We live in a world, in a culture, where “the word of the cross is folly.” Folly, for those who don’t know, is another word for foolishness. We need to understand that the word of the cross (the Gospel) is foolishness to an unbeliever. It makes absolutely no sense. Why would someone else die for them? How does HIS death cover THEIR sins? Why do they deserve death, they’re a pretty good person, right? Without faith the cross is just silly. It doesn’t make much sense. The math just doesn’t add up [see what I did there].

“But to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  Well I think this sums it up quite nicely. To us, as christians, the word of the cross is the power of God. Let that resonate inside you for a moment. The power of God. Do you understand the power in that statement [sorry, I did it again]? What is the power of God? The power of God is what has defeated Satan. What conquered Satan was the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelations 12:10-12). Thats the word of the Cross. The blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony. That is the power of God. I love this so much. Friends let us never grow weary of the word of the cross!

22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

We need to understand that the people around us are going to demand signs and seek wisdom. There are always those people who are going to say, “prove it” or “tell me the exact ration of holiness Jesus’ has to the sin of the world ” (okay, I just made that one up).  People are always going to ask for signs or ask detailed questions that we may not be able to give them. But our job is not to give signs or give detailed answers, our job is to preach Christ and Christ crucified. Its just that simple. This isn’t going to satisfy everyone. To ones who cannot grasp grace it will be a stumbling block to those who refuse to believe it will be just foolishness. But once again, to us who are called, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

We cannot save anyone. Even if we say and do all the right things, we can’t do it. We can’t change anyone’s mind. We can’t prove to them that Jesus died for their sins. We just can’t. But what we can do is share the word of the Cross with everyone we meet. We share it and we let the power of God do the work. We don’t judge people for not believing. We don’t condemn them. We just love them like Jesus loved them. We lay our lives down for them as Jesus did for us on the cross. We give Him all the glory, all the honor, and all the praise. It all belongs to Him anyway. We simply preach Christ crucified.

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

Jesus + Nothing = Everything

So I have been reading this book titled Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjan. It is absolutely amazing. He dives into this formula “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” Now this a rather simple concept. But it goes so much deeper than any of us could possibly imagine.

I am going to attempt to break it down into the readers’ digest version. In the book Tullian goes  through the formula first backwards(everything, nothing, and Jesus), then forwards(Jesus, nothing, and everything). He shares with us what everything means to us. He points out how we innately want everything. We as humans are never content. Our bodies yearn for more ll the time. This is because we were CREATED for more. We were created for everything. We were given dominion over all the earth (everything). We were created for Heaven where we will have everything. There will be no more pain, sorrow, regret, heartache, tears and we will have everything we have wanted.

He then breaks down the “nothing” part of the formula. He points out our fatal flaw as Christians and as humans. Our fatal flaw is that we try to add to Jesus We don’t see that He sufficient. We are searching for more and we don’t realize that Jesus is it. He’s al we need. Tullian uses the example The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, where we see Screwtape is discussing his strategies against Christians (in Screwtape’s words) “to keep them in a state of mind I call ‘Christianity And.'” Wow. It’s just that simple. A simple 3-letter word we a thousand times a day, “And.” We take Christianity and we add something. To some people this may look like, “Christianity and Self-affirmation” or “Christianity and Social Justice” or “Christianity and Science” or whatever your “and” is. The root of this “and” problem is our flawed view of Grace. We foolishly think that we can add something to Grace so we can get what we want. We think we need to do our part to earn grace. Jesus did our part so now we need to do ours. Or we think, “Okay, yeah I don’t need to earn grace, but I do need to work to keep it.” This is our fatal flaw. We keep searching for something  and trying to put the responsibility on us. That is the opposite of grace.

Next Tullian breaks down the “Jesus” part of the formula. He explains how Jesus is everything we could ever want or imagine and more! He describes who Jesus is. He is the Lord of all creation, He is the Lord of Hosts, The King of Kings, ,The Lord of Lords, The Creator of the universe, The Great I AM, The beginning and the end, He goes before, He is final call, He is preeminent, He is the image of the unseen God, Firstborn of all creation, He created all things, all things are bound together by Him and through Him, The fullness of God dwells within Him,. And now because He is all these things everything on earth has been reconciled through Him and His death on the cross. Now we who were enemies of Him can be called children of God and we are welcomed into his very near presence. This is Jesus, This is Grace. This is The Gospel.

Next Tullian goes back to the “nothing’ part of the formula. He describes how depraved and wick we are. How we have absolutely nothing offer Jesus. Therefor, we are in need of a Savior. We are in need of Grace. There is nothing that we can do to earn or keep grace. We are taken completely out of the driver’s seat. Grace puts Jesus is full control. Unfortunately, we has humans hate that. We as humans hate true grace. Let that sink for a minute. We, as Tullian explained before, always want more and we want to do it ourselves. We are prideful and we want more and we think we need to be the ones to get this. We put our fate in our own hands. Yet if we could step back look, we would see how stupid that is. We are finite creators trying to earn something that’s infinite. The math doesn’t add up. We need someone who IS infinite to grant us what we truly desire. That someone is Jesus.

Finally, in the last part of the book, Tullian finishes with the “everything” part of the formula. In this part we see that if we could truly let go and give Jesus full control He will give us everything. If we let His desires become our desires He will grant us those desires. We will see Heaven come down on Earth. If we live our lives in the light of the grace we have been given, we will see change in our lives. We will see the impact it has on this world. So my final challenge to you is this: Make JESUS the focus of your life, know that He is EVERYTHING and He needs NOTHING. There is NOTHING you can do or add to JESUS because is already EVERYTHING. Live in the light of the Grace of JESUS add NOTHING and enjoy EVERYTHING.

Promises, Promises

Image

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11

I prepared a message for youth group this week and a particular truth stood out to me, so I thought I would share it with you.

I am doing a series on faith and this weeks topic was called “The Good Father.” I was focusing on putting faith in our perfect heavenly father. In the above Scripture we see how God loves to give good gifts to HIs children who ask. This truth brought up a question. What has God promised and what has God NOT promised? Now we as Christians know that God has promised us many things. But unfortunately, we have added some of our own promises. Have you noticed this? We claim these promises in Jesus name, but these promises are never found in Scripture. Here is a list of a few Scriptures where some of God’s promises are found.

Jeremiah 29:11, Matthew 11:28-29, Isaiah 40:29-31, Philippians 4:19, Romans 8:37-39, Proverbs 1:33, John 14:27, Romans 10:9, Romans 6:23

Now those are things God has promised. But there are things God has not promised. He has not promised to keep bad things from happening, heal every illness, reverse the consequences of sin or that we will never face hardship. Yet, in some Christian circles, people are claiming that that Jesus will do these things. They claim that if you love Jesus, if you have enough faith, if you pray enough that Jesus will keep any bad things from happening, that you will be blessed financially, and that everything in your life will get better. But we need to understand that Jesus has never promised these things.

Here is a quote from the book, “The Barbarian Way” by Erwin McManus

“Instead of finding confidence to live as we should regardless of our circumstances, we have used it as justification to choose the path of least resistance, least difficulty, least sacrifice. Instead of concluding it is best to be wherever God wants us to be, we have decided that wherever it is best for us to be is where God wants us. Actually, God’s will for us is less about our comfort than it is about our contribution. God would never choose for us safety at the cost of significance.” (pg. 44-45)

I think describes perfectly what we as humans do. We take what we think is best for us and we claim Jesus has promised these things when he really hasn’t. We forget that as a perfect Father, He would never dare give His children everything they ask for. (Can I get an Amen from the parents?) God has promised to give us good gifts and He is faithful to do just that. But He will not give us “good” things just because we think it is what’s best for us. He loves us too much for that to happen.

In conclusion, as we are going through this fast, let’s make sure that our expectations from God and from this fast are based on Biblical promises. I was once told, “The best way to know if something is counterfeit is to study and be so familiar with the original, that you can spot any inconsistency.” Let us study the Bible so much and become so familiar with it that we can spot any false promises or false teachings.

The Call of the Wild – Encounter 2014

Burning Bush10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said,“But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt,you shall serve God on this mountain.” 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’”  Exodus 3:10-14

To give a little background on this text, this is taking place at the Burning Bush. God is audibly speaking to Moses during this passage. God has just commanded Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. He has just cast vision for what he wants Moses to do and how He (God) will bring His people out of slavery. Now Moses has been shepherding in the desert for the last 40 years. Thats a very long time. Thats twice as many years as I have been alive! Also, before that Moses was a prince in Egypt until he murdered an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew. To summarize he’s been in the desert, chillin and minding his own business(thats the literal translation from the Hebrew, JK!), for 40 years. Before that he was a prince in Egypt but fled because he murdered an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew. Now, God shows up in this Burning, not consuming, bush and tells him to go back and confront Pharaoh, who he was raised with as his brother! He was just getting comfortable in the desert and God tells him to do something totally out of his comfort zone.

Let us take a look at Moses’ response to God calling him out of his comfort zone. He does exactly what most of us do when God asks us to do something out of our comfort zone, he starts disqualifying himself. I know I have done this on many occasions and I am sure you have too. He says, “God, are you really sure you want me? Isn’t there someone else better for the job? Why I have to confront my brother? I am not qualified. I don’t know if you remember but I.. I… I.. uhh.. Stt… sttt… stutter.(Too far?) I can’t be expected to go to my people and set them free, they don’t even know me. etc”

Does this sound like a conversation you’ve had with God?

Now let’s look at God’s response to Moses. It is so powerful and unexpected. His response to Moses is NOT all of Moses’ credentials. Its not a list of skills Moses’ possesses. His response is, “But I will be with you….” I love that. It so simple, yet so profound. God doesn’t need your skills or talents (or lack thereof). He just needs you. You don’t need a diploma, degree, training,etc. You just need Him! He will be with you. Thats all you need!  But thats not it, there’s more! Not only does He say He is with Moses, He define who HE is! “13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Wow! That is POWERFUl! This is first description God gives of Himself. He says “I am who I am.” He is saying that He is sufficient in and of Himself. He needs no other words to describe Himself other than “I AM”. The word for I AM in Hebrew is Yahweh. A word we commonly use today, especially in popular worship songs. But to the Hebrews, this word is so powerful they don’t even say it aloud. The whisper it under their breath. Even when they use it in writing, they do not spell it fully.

Ponder that for a moment. The name God gives Himself is so powerful His people fear even to utter it aloud.

In conclusion, during this fast some of you may be feeling a call from God to do something out of your comfort zone. You may be getting called to serve somewhere you are not comfortable with. Maybe you are being called to tell someone you know about Jesus, but that terrifies you. Maybe God is calling you to love someone you really don’t want to love. Whatever you are being called to do just remember, don’t disqualify yourself. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. And most importantly, remember the Great I AM is with you. You need nothing else other than Him.

The Gospel and Fairytales

FairyTaleWhat is about fairytales that makes us love them so much?  I have never met a single person who doesn’t like a good fairytale. What makes them so compelling? What is it that gets us to sit on the edge of our seat even though we all know how it is going to end? I believe that it speaks to something innately in all of us. It speaks to something inside of them that yearns to be chosen. Fairytales all have the same general plot. It goes something like this: “Once upon a time” an ordinary girl is making the most of her dreary life. She usually lives poverty. The only thing that gets her through the day is her “animal friends” and her hope for a better life. She dreams of one day meeting the “prince” and falling in love and living happily ever after. One day in her dreary life, either the prince makes a surprise visit or she finds a stroke of luck and makes it to “the ball.” By some miracle, her and the prince have a marvelous night and fall in love. But alas, there is always something tragic that occurs separating the lovers. The girl is now in despair. But the “prince” sets out on a “quest” to win back his lady love. He conquers the “dragon” and wins his lady love and they live “happily ever after.” Yupp. There it is. Your stereotypical fairytale. This storyline isn’t complex yet it is engraved into our very souls. Thats why even though you know the story will end with “happily ever after”, you read the book or watch the movie all the way through. Now why is that? I believe that I have stumbled onto that answer. I believe that this storyline is the same storyline of the Gospel. Now I know what you are thinking…. “Caleb, how can compare the Gospel to a fairytale? Where do you get the audacity to say the Gospel is a ‘story’?” I know that it sounds a little crazy but let me explain. Let me paraphrase the Gospel in this manner and you tell me if you see the correlation.  “Once upon a time” there was a sorry bunch of people (us). They lived ordinary lives. There was nothing special about them. They continued with their dreary lives day by day with their “animal friends” and their hope for something more. Then one day the “prince” (Jesus) came down from his kingdom. And he lived with the sorry bunch of people (us) but he kept his true identity a secret. We spent time with the prince (Jesus) and we fell in love with him and he with us. But then something tragic happened (he died on the cross), and we were once again separated from our lover. But the prince defeated his dragon (death) and is on a quest find his beloved. One day he will return as the victorious King and they (we) will live with him…. “happily ever after.” Now do you see what I mean? The reason why we are so captivated by fairytales is because it is our story. It is our story of a beautiful redemption that we do not deserve and did not earn. It is glorious story of our God and relentless pursuit after us.