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Each of us make numerous decisions every day.  No doubt, some decisions are more important than others.  Everyone will make the wrong decision at some point.  If you are like me, those wrong decisions motivate me the next time I have to make an important choice.  In the midst of a world that is rapidly changing, it is important to make sure you are standing on solid ground before you make your next important decision.  Here are some things I think you should keep in mind:

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Remember… who God is.

ASK: What does the Bible and history tell me is true about the nature and character of God?

Reconsider… the root of your feelings.

ASK: What beliefs about God and about me are fueling these feelings?

Revisit… the last thing God spoke clearly.

ASK: When was the last time I felt confident that God spoke to me and affirmed His word?  What did He say?

Review… your overarching purpose.

ASK: What is the big picture of God’s plan for my life?

Receive… good council from trusted people.

ASK: Who are the wise voices I have asked to speak into my life?  Am I listening?

Respond… with faith, not fear.

ASK: Am I being motivated by faith in God’s word and Spirit, or fear?  Choose Faith!

Be encouraged, no one gets it “right” every time.  You can trust God will never waste an opportunity to shape you more and more into the likeness of Jesus.  The good news is even when we make the wrong decision, God is greater than our mis-steps and He will be glorified in the end.

 

Pastors, how do we keep people close to Jesus when there are so many alternatives in the world? Some people try to build fences made of rules and standards that keep the “good” people in and the “bad” people out. The other option is to dig wells. What will you do?

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Here’s a parable I borrowed from Deb Hirsch,

(It takes place)…between a farmer and a Japanese tourist in the Australian outback. The tourist is taken aback with the sheer vastness of the outback and comments to the farmer that as far as he can see, he can’t see any fences. The tourist asks the farmer how he can possibly keep his sheep in without fences. The farmer replies that they don’t need to build fences, they just dig wells and the sheep don’t wander very far. (Redeeming Sex: Naked Conversations About Sexuality and Spirituality)

There’s never been a greater need for followers of Jesus to dig wells with the true Gospel of Jesus.  It’s the only thing that will quench the thirst of the people in our city.

If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. – Jesus (John 7:37)

…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. – Jesus (John 4:14)

This week’s Supreme Court decision that redefines marriage has stirred up quite a response.  It ranges from outrage to sheer jubilation.  One thing is for sure, although the Court has ruled, the water is still murky and many are wondering how to respond.  Because I am a Christian and a pastor, my heart goes out to the many people who are still trying to wrap their heart around the implications of what is happening and how they should respond to a culture that is rapidly changing.

 

Here are 7 things I encourage you to do today:
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1. Remember Who God Is
Nothing that happens within culture catches God off guard.  The God of the Bible is not wringing His hands in fear because of decisions made in the courtrooms of man.  God’s nature and character are unchanging – in every circumstance: God is great— so we do not have to be in control, God is glorious— so we do not have to fear others, God is good— so we do not have to look elsewhere and God is gracious— so we do not have to prove ourselves (credit: Tim Chester).

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Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. – Philippians 2:4

If you want relationships to thrive, act like Jesus.  Covenant community is built on trust in Jesus, and not people.  I had a dear friend who played a significant role in the Foursquare denomination for many years. I met with him one time and he said something which took me by surprise.  He said, “Jon, here’s the thing that I’ve learned about relationships that has helped me more than anything else. I’ve learned that I don’t trust anybody.”  And I said, “That sounds like an issue to me.”  And this is what he said, “I’ve learned that the minute I make somebody the source of my hope, or my peace, or my security, and put all of my trust in them, inevitably, they’re imperfect. But if I put all my trust in Jesus; my hope, my sense of peace and security, and find my identity in Jesus first and foremost, then I will not be sucking the life out of people, but I can be pouring life into people.  And when they fail, which they inevitably will, and so will I, my foundation isn’t rocked, because it’s built on Jesus and not them.”

Some of us are stuck in a free-fall emotionally, because somebody has left us or abandoned us or filed for divorce, or a friend has abandoned us, or we moved and now we don’t know anybody, or our boss promised us a promotion, and now we don’t even have a job.  I want to lovingly suggest that , if you find yourself in that place, had we not put so much stock, so much trust, so much faith in a person to “save” us, when they turned out not to be Jesus Christ, our world might not feel so much like it is falling apart.  Please know that, when we face abandonment and betrayal, we have to mourn.  That’s painful.  But if we can’t ever begin to climb out of that free-fall, we need to stop and say, “Am I trying to hold somebody in the position of savior, knowing full well, only Jesus can be that for me?”  If that’s the case, we have to start by repenting and recognizing there’s been an idol in our lives. Remember, idols always over-promise and under-deliver.  It doesn’t matter how far  or how long you’ve been free-falling – you may have jumped out of that plane at 30,000 feet, and you’re like 5 feet from the ground – the moment you call on the name of Jesus, it is never too late for him to save you.

This weekend was AMAZING at Living Water!  I heard walls coming down and chains falling off as people made a declaration about who they are because of Jesus!  Take time today to proclaim the truth about who you are, believe it, and live it – in Jesus name!

Jesus at the CenterWho am I?

  • I am a child of God.
  • I am led by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, and encouraged by the Spirit.
  • I am greater in the eyes of the Lord than I am in my own.
  • I will live from victory not struggle for victory, because I am in Jesus and He is in me.
  • I have all of heaven’s resources at my disposal, therefore I am always generous, never lacking.
  • I will love like the Father loves, serve like Jesus serves and powerfully go into my community as the Spirit sends me.
  • I will not stand idly by while darkness, doubt, disease and debit creep in to my community and destroy what God has created to flourish.
  • The time to advance God’s kingdom is now.
  • With God’s word as my foundation, Jesus as my cornerstone, the Holy Spirit as my comforter I am bringing the kingdom everywhere I go and the gates of Hell cannot prevail.

In the name of Jesus!

What else is true about you because of Jesus? Add your thoughts in the comments and share with anyone who needs to hear it!

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And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the idols from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him – I Samuel 7:3

God is very interested in keeping his promises, and God is also very interested in the disposition of your heart.  When God made promises with the nation of Israel, He said, “You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”  What God is saying to Israel is, “If you’ll do that – if you’ll put Me first in everything you do – if you’ll put Me first when you bring in crops, and you put Me first when your livestock multiplies.  If you’ll put Me first when you have children, if you’ll put Me first when you go to battle.”  God said, “If you put Me first in just the smallest ways – if you’ll put Me first in your life, I will multiply blessing upon blessing behind you, as long as I’m first.”

All throughout history, God has always called his people to make a decision about who’s going to be first in their life.  One of the problems that we find was happening in the nation of Israel is that they were in no way, shape, or form putting God first in their life.  What they did think was that they could put God in a box and take him out whenever they needed him to benefit their own agenda.  They began this pattern of thinking that, “Well, listen.  God’s in a box in the ark.  I’m gonna go do whatever I wanna do, and then when we need God, we can bring God in a box, and take God out of the box, and then God will do whatever we need Him to do.”  How many of you know you can’t keep God in a box?  We know we can’t do that, but I think maybe sometimes today we still try to put God in a box.

We probably would never articulate it that way.  And we may not even realize we are doing it, but how many of us have made decisions and choices to do life our way, and then when things crash and burn, we say, “God, where are you?”  Without making a conscious choice to do so, we seek to put God in this box of religious activities, then when we need Him to save us, we can pull Him out and ask for His help and blessing.

the Bible makes it really clear that there will always be competing desires in our heart.  The desire isn’t the issue; it’s what you decide to do that makes a difference.  Honor is a decision, not a desire.  A lot of people say that they want to do something, but they never do it.  A lot of people say they want to stop something, but they never stop it.  A lot of people say, “I wish,” but they never do.  The things you choose to honor are the things which will carry the most weight in your life.  The things you honor are the things in your life that you value, or consider important.  Choosing to love God first and highest in your life will inevitably demand that we make other things second.

You may find yourself at a crossroad, faced with a decision on any number of things; family, relationships, money. What you honor first demonstrates what you love the most. If you love God with all of our heart and soul and strength, it will be reflected by the choices that you make.

Good Friday

The event of the crucifixion is called “the Passion”.  Used in this context it refers to the suffering of Christ. We most often use the word “passion” to express a powerful emotion, especially associated with love. Good Friday reminds us that the Cross is the place where Jesus’ love was ultimately expressed through immense suffering for our sake.

In a culture focused on the end result, it’s easy to skip over the price that our Savior paid for us. When we forget the price that Jesus paid, we are susceptible to forgetting that it has been paid. On Good Friday we remember the death that came before the Resurrection.

Because Jesus rose from the grave, we have eternal life. But because He died, our sins are forgiven and the hostility between man and God is forever ended. Jesus didn’t simply acknowledge our sins and forgive them; He took them upon Himself, and paid the price with His own death. Good Friday is good because it means the end of our guilt, shame, and punishment.

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12 (ESV)

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2:24–25 (ESV)

Good Friday Service at Living Water in Olympia, Washington.

Easter at Living Water 2014

Easter at Living Water 2014

“I always thought Easter was all about the bunny and eggs.  Now that I know Jesus, I can’t wait to celebrate His resurrection on Easter!”  Those were the words spoken to me by a brother that radically met Jesus not long ago.  If this is your first Easter as a Jesus follower, it’s not hard to be excited for what we celebrate!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most pivotal moment in all of human history, all of the Christian faith rests on its veracity.  Consider these words as we prepare to celebrate the risen Jesus, Savior of the world.

“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about.”
― N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
“The resurrection completes the inauguration of God’s kingdom. . . . It is the decisive event demonstrating thet God’s kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven.””The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.”
― N.T. Wright
“The resurrection is the revelation to chosen witnesses of the fact that Jesus who died on the cross is indeed king – conqueror of death and sin, Lord and Savior of all. The resurrection is not the reversal of a defeat but the proclamation of a victory. The King reigns from the tree. The reign of God has indeed come upon us, and its sign is not a golden throne but a wooden cross.”
― Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture

A Jonah lurks in every Christian heart, whimpering his insidious message of smug prejudice, empty traditionalism, and exclusive solidarity. He that has ears to hear, let him hear and allow the saving love of God which has been outpoured in his own heart to remold his thinking and social orientation. Allen, Leslie C. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bmhkim/I don’t like to be interrupted.  Do you?

When I am reading a book, watching a show or engaged in conversation I prefer to not be distracted.  Over 15 years ago I married Fawn and we enjoyed many hours of silence, together, uninterrupted – magnificent! Then we had children.  From that day onward interruption became the new status quo.  (Am I the only one who hides in the bathroom in order to Continue Reading…