Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Matthew 16:24-26 (NLT)

What a question, “Is anything worth more than your soul?” I think we would reflexively answer,  "No way!" The truth is our words rarely tell the whole story of what we value. I have learned over time that words are down on the list of things we should use to measure what we love. In fact, Jesus says it this way, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

What does Jesus mean by that statement? First, we have to define what is meant by the word...

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Exodus 20:18-19 (NLT)

This is a story in the OT where Moses comes down from Mt. Sinai after spending a significant time with God receiving the Ten Commandments. The scene is filled with intensity and the people of Israel become afraid and say in response to Moses, “Speak to us yourself… But do not have God speak to us” (Exodus 20:19).

God isn’t satisfied to simply speaking to the spiritual leaders (pastors, parents, small group leaders, etc…) in our lives; God desires to speak directly to us. Speaking with someone face to face is intimate and intimacy is God’s ultimate goal with for each one of His chi...

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love... Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us." 1 John 4:7, 11-12 (NLT)

We all have seen that couple at the movies or out in public that is all over each other and oblivious to everyone else around them. Nobody observes that couple and says that's beautiful; instead they are usually grossed out. Instead of appearing loving, they appear self-absorbed. That is because love that isn't shared and that does not open up to others (inclusive) isn't love at all. Or picture a family who only opens their garage door to leave and...

Monday, April 29, 2019

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:7-8,10-12 (NIV)

When has someone most looked like God to you? Has it been when you have observed them reading the Bible or praying? Or did they look like God when you saw them going into church? As useful and necessary as these things are, they each can be undone in a moment. Let me explain. What if the person you observe praying or reading the Bible is, on another occasion, seen goss...

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

The definition for the word substance is "a particular kind of matter..." Matter is what we can see and touch. Genuine faith is also like matter; we can see it alive in someone's life and feel its effects. We won't have to ask someone if they believe, their belief will be evident in how they live.  Faith-filled lives are measurable and have weight them and make an impact for the glory of Jesus. 

True faith in Jesus creates a life that looks like Jesus.

A person may say they have faith, but faith isn't evidenced by what we say, it is evidenced by what we do. James says it this way, "But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds." (James 2:18, NIV). 

What about you? Would other...

Monday, April 22, 2019

"When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots." Luke 23:33-34 (NIV)

In the middle of the most agonizing pain an individual can endure, Jesus is thinking about the good of others. Instead of trying to defend himself or entertain feelings of revenge, Jesus asks His Father's forgiveness for those who are nailing His hands and feet to wooden execution tool. When He should be overwhelmed with His pain, He is overwhelmed with the needs of His executioners — their need for forgiveness. 

Pain has a way of causing us to think only of ourselves. Jesus shows us a better way through the pain. With the Father's grace, Jesus was able to attend to the needs of...

Friday, April 19, 2019

"LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?" Jeremiah 12:1 (NLT)

Have you ever noticed that it seems that people who do bad things have great lives, and people who are committed to doing right have no luck? Why does it appear this way? Shouldn't individuals get punished for wrongdoing instead of life rewarding them. If God is good, why do the good suffer more than the bad? 

The good news is that these thoughts are natural and people have asked them for ages. Jeremiah, who wrote our verse over a thousand years ago, also asked this question of God. Jeremiah didn't stop there; He demanded that God deal with them harshly.

Here's how he puts it:   

   

      "Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered. Set them aside 

...

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; He will never let

the righteous be shaken." Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

Things in life can get shaky and sometimes downright scary. We all have been through things that cause us to doubt the security of our futures, our faith, our families and our friendships. 

The first thing to know and understand is that God cares. And because He cares, we can cast our cares upon Him. What are you currently trying to figure out or fix with your wisdom and strength? Stop struggling and surrender it to Jesus. The very hairs of your head are counted (Luke 12:7), so don't hesitate to bring it before God. If he cares about the number of hairs you have, He most definitely cares about every area of your life. 

The second thing is that God will allow times of shaking in our lives so we can learn that He is the unshakable One....

Monday, April 15, 2019

"So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

Doing the right thing and not seeing the right results is tough, especially when we see many of our friends doing the wrong things and seemingly getting rewarded for them. Watching our friends live like nothing matters, all the while we are trying to live a life that honors Jesus. Often this seems unfair and can leave us feeling worn out. It can leave us feeling like living for Jesus isn't worth it or doesn't work. But living a life that works or is worth it, wasn't the reason we chose to accept Jesus in the first place. We chose Jesus, because He first chose us, and rescued us from a life of sin and death.

We didn't choose Jesus to make life work; We chose Him to be forgiven of our sins and to live in an abiding...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him... We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began."
Luke 15:20-24 (NLT)

What have you done in days past or recently that has made you think God is mad at you? What have you done so that you now believe, instead of waiting on the front porch looking for you, God has gone inside and given up on you? Or, what terrible thing has been done to you, so that now you a...

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We believe the only life worth living is the “uncommon” life that results from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  We encourage our youth to experience this life through a daily time with Jesus,  worship, ministry, and prayer.

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