Walk with me
In Acts 2 we see the first sermon that Peter gave to the Church!
What were the results? We’re told that 3,000 were baptized that day. Considering the practice of the day, this number likely only counted the men and not the women or children who joined them in baptism and the beginning of their journey as followers of Jesus.
When Peter explained what the people needed to do, he also told them that the promise of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit was intended not only for those who heard the message that day, but their descendants as well as those who were far off- whomever God may call to Himself. So, we offer that same plea today. Recognize that Jesus is the promised one of God, choose to follow Him as your Lord, turn away from your sins, and be baptized to join with Jesus for eternity.
WHAT DID THEY DO???
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
How devoted are you to the teaching of God's Word?
Are you getting together with the people of God?
Are you in awe and wonder at what God is doing?
Are you generously giving to those in need?
I have been involved in youth ministry for 12 years and have spent the last 6 as a Lead Minister. As a Lead Minister, part of my responsibility is to provide oversight to our Youth Minister. In my six years at this position, I have had the priviledge of working with three different young men. To say that they have all been different is an understatment.
I often hear people talking about and critiquing our ministry or another one. They often use the words depth and fun. It will go something like, “that youth ministry has lots of students but all they do is fun and games, there is no depth”. The other thing I will hear is, “In fact our numbers are down but there is depth to our youth ministry. We are just trying to dig deep with these students.”
My question is why does it have to be depth or fun, why can’t it be both? Leonard Sweet called this approach to learning “edutainment”. I think that our efforts need to focus on discipleship that is engaging and yes, even entertaining.
Here are some ways this can be accomplished.
1. Listen, don't just talk
When I first started off in youth ministry I was insecure (let’s be honest I still am) and so I wanted to show everyone what an amazing communicator I was. I wanted to be the next (insert hot preacher name here). Over time I started to care less about being the next big preacher and more about the students “getting it”. One of the best ways for students to engage and enjoy delving into the Bible is if they can ask questions and interact.
2. Interaction is a must
Interaction is a must! Any time you can pull up a student or get them in groups to do something that reinforces your point, do it. I know you are thinking that this is childish and the students won’t like it. I disagree. Not only is interaction fun but it reinforces the lesson you are trying to communicate. I say do games but they must reinforce the lesson and are not just done for fun sake.
3. Laugh often and mostly at yourself
Please do not take yourself too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, strive for excellence and be a good steward of your resources but remember to laugh often and poke fun at yourself. Nothing is more freeing and invites students to ask tough questions than when they see that their leader will to make a mistake and laugh about it.
4. If you are not having fun digging deep no one will
This is the simplest leadership lesson, LEAD BY EXAMPLE. If students do not see you having fun as you delve deep into the things of God, why would they? Following Jesus is serious business but it should be the most life giving, enjoyable and fun thing we could ever commit our lives to. So live that way!
How do you manage the tension between fun and depth?
A young man one day was on his way to visit a friend named John who lived on a farm. He entered the farm and began to meander up the road that led to his friend’s home. He had to pass by a barn and as he got near to it, he stopped, perplexed. He saw something that both mesmerized and stupefied him. On the barn were twenty targets. In the middle of each target was a bull’s-eye, and in the middle of each bull’s-eye was a hole. Someone had used the barn as target practice and however it was, was a crack shot. There were no other holes on the barn except the holes in the bull’s-eyes, centered in the targets. He couldn’t believe it. He started back up the road to the house. When he met up with John at the house, he said, ‘‘before we begin our day together, I’ve just got to ask you, who in the world did the shooting on the barn?’’ John said, ‘‘Well I did.’’ The man looked surprised and said,’ Wait a minute! There are twenty targets, with twenty bullseyes, with twenty holes in each bullseye. You mean to tell me you did that?’’ John said, ‘‘Yep, I made every shot.’’ ‘‘Where in the world…how in the world did you learn to shoot like that?’’ John said, ‘‘It’s simple, I shot first, then I drew a picture of the target around the hole.’’
A lot of us are just like John. Maybe we know the right words to say; maybe we know how to dress up for church on Easter. But it’s not so much that we’ve hit the bull’s-eye, we’ve just learned to paint well. It’s possible to go through the motions and not live a life on target.
You have a choice to make. It’s the most important decision you will ever make. It all comes down to this. This is a moment that changes everything.
You are faced with the reality of the gospel. The perfect and sinless life of Christ, His death for you on the cross, His victorious resurrection and His offer of salvation. You are forced to make a choice. You can see for yourself and respond in repentance and faith, or you can hear the story, choose not to believe, and remain unchanged, unsaved and under judgment.
This changes everything; it is that moment that separates victory from defeat, winning from losing, life from death.
Back in September of 2021, I began a health journey that has changed my life. One of the greatest reasons that I have seen such great success is due to the fact that I have paid careful attention to six key macrohabits of health. I wanted to share what these six foundational areas are and some simple things I do to improve in each of these areas.
Healthy Weight Management: I have lost 35 pounds with a goal of an additional 15 more.
Healthy Eating & Hydration: I drink over 100 0unces of water each day.
Healthy Motion: I log 13,000 steps each day.
Healthy Sleep & Energy Management: I get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Healthy Mind: I read the Bible. I listen to podcasts. I read for fun.
Healthy Surroundings: I spend time with like-minded people who share interests and goals. I avoid toxic relationships. I spend a lot of time each day outside.
What are your goals for you and your health? What is one thing that you can do in each of these areas? If you would like to fill out a health assement and connect to explore ways to improve your health, we would love to talk with you. https://form.jotform.com/212525498552158
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
John 12:1-8 (NIV)
EXTRAVAGANT WORSHIP IS NEVER ENOUGH, BUT ALWAYS ACCEPTED.
One of my favorite things about my youngest daughter is how proud she is when she creates art. What may appear to be scribbles, shapes and abstract figures is her masterpiece. She will hold the picture up in front of her with pride and back up against the wall striking a predictable pose that says, "Dad, take my picture!"
Her artwork, while it never be hung up in an art museum, is always accepted by her Father. Our worship, as extravagant as it may seem, is never enought, but is always aaccepted our Father. We must give him our best!
This characteristic of extravagant worship is a negative one, but it’s a beautiful fact. Do you realize that Mary’s worship wasn’t enough?
Did she hope to repay Jesus? He’d raised Lazarus from the dead. She also seemed to understand that very soon Jesus would be dying for her. What’s that worth? Could one year’s wages pay for these things? She knew it wasn’t enough. God caused the plants to grow to provide the oil. God had placed the alabaster in the ground. God gave Mary her locks of hair, and she had the financial means to own that oil and the strength to be there that day because the Lord gave it to her. She couldn’t even give anything to Him that He hadn’t given to her in the first place! No matter how extravagant our worship to Jesus is, it will never come close what He deserves.
No matter how creative we are, nothing “wows” the Creator. No matter how much of our energy we pour into worship or how long we use our voices, we’ll wear out, and the praise in heaven never ceases. No matter how much we give what we consider our own, it’s already rightfully God’s. No matter how extravagant our worship, it will never be enough.
Now, Jesus didn’t say that about Mary’s extravagance. She already knew it. It was great, but it wasn’t “enough.” Still, it was her best. And when anyone gives their best, that honors Jesus.
Mary’s worship was accepted by Jesus. He didn’t stop Mary. There was no embarrassed turning away; no worry that what she was doing was inappropriate. There was no indignant look that what she was doing wasn’t good enough. In fact, nowhere do we ever read of Jesus turning away honest, heart-felt worship to Him -- and I’ll bet He saw some pretty different expressions of it!
I also notice this: realizing it wasn’t enough didn’t stop Mary. She still gave her best at the Savior’s feet. Whether her best was good enough or not, it was still what she would give. She understood something I wish we could all get our minds around: He deserved her best.
We should be so deliberate - even though our worship may not seem like much to us or to others. It’s never enough; it will never adequately honor Him. But He always deserves it, and He always accepts it.
Your singing, no matter how finely polished, isn’t perfect like God deserves. Still God deserves the best you can do for Him. The way you play an instrument now can’t approach how well I think you’ll be able to play it in heaven. Still, God is worthy of your very best right now. A poor widow lady knew that her two copper coins didn’t amount to much in the temple treasury, but her act of worship was her best to God, and Jesus praised her for that. Right now, our most extreme acts of worship will never measure up to the glory of heaven, but they’ll always be accepted.
Just like the crayon scribbles made with love by a child bring joy to a parent.
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 13, some people came to Jesuss and told him about Galileans whose blood Pilaate had mixed with their sacrifices. They were going to offer a sacrifice and they were slaughtered by the hands of evil men. Jesus reminds them that they were not worse sinners than any others. What happened to them was a result of evil that was done to them. Jesus let's them know that if they don't repent, they too will perish.
Then Jesus reminds them about a tower in Siloam that fell and killed eighteen people. A natural disaster that took thier lives too soon. They also were not more guilty than others. Jesus takes one more chance to remind them that unless they repent, they too will perish.
Then Jesus tells a story...
6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” -Luke 13:6-9
The owner is regarded as representing God the Father, who had a fig tree planted in his vineyard and came seeking fruit. The parable reflects Jesus offering a chance for repentance and forgiveness of sin, showing his grace toward his believers.
We teach kids to say that they are sorry when they don't play nice. We apologize when we snap at others. When it comes to repentance of our sins before God, we may not be as quick to act.
True repentance comes when we desire to live lives worthy of the grace and mercy of our Savior. Our gratitude for Jesus' sacrifice on the cross must prompt us to repent of anything that is contrary to His holiness.
Here is what biblical repentance looks like.
REPENTANCE IS MORE THAN "SORRY."
Being sorry indicates a temporary clearing of the conscience. We can be "sorry" about a lot of things, but only godly sorrow leads to a change of heart. The outward signs of godly sorrow include a diligence to live differently, a holly fear of the Lord, and a desire for forgiveness.
REPENTANCE MOURNS OVER SIN AND SHAME
In our lives, when the conviction of the Holy Spirit comes, our hearts will be grieved over our sin. In our brokenness before God, we will be restored.
REPENTANCE IS FUELED BY GOD'S LOVING-KINDNESS
When repentance starts to feel like an obligation more than a freedom, we needd to remember the incredible goodness of our heavenly Father. Because of His patience with us, we are motivated to repent of anything that goes against His unmerited kindness towards uss.
REPENTANCE IS URGENT
Sometimes, it is easy to take the Lord's mercy for granted. We know that Jesus' work on the cross covered our sin, so we may be tempted to be complacent in repenetance. Let us be purposeful in acknowledging our sin with urgency and resolve. Confeess our sins, knowing he is faithful and just to forgive.
UNLESS YOU REPENT... YOU WILL PERISH
Maybe you, or someone you know seems to over-apologize. We have all met people who say that they are "sorry" when it isn't entirely their fault. Someone will bump into them, and they will say, "sorry." Someone will make a reasonable request and they will say, "sorry." If this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone.
Saying "sorry" too much is common. However, over apologizing can undermine your self-worth and your capacity to live a full life. If you find yourself being "sorry" too much, you need to develop strategies to help you stop. Don't be... SO SORRY!
Common traits of people who are "so sorry."
They are compassionate: Many people who struggle care a lot about the feelings and preferences of others. Because they are like this, they find themselves apologizing for things even when they have done nothing wrong.
They are submissive in relationships: Often people who struggle give the other person the message that they feel like it is wrong to have their own thoughts or needs.
They are agreeable: When people care about keeping the peace and avoiding conflict they struggle and can be more likely to say "sorry" more than is needed. They would rather apologize than instigate a fight.
They lack confidence in their judgement: Many who struggle are not confident that what they are doing or saying is right. They often just assume that they are in the wrong.
They come from a strict background: If one has spent their childhood in fear of discipline this can cause them to struggle to be trigger-happy with their apologies.
They have anxiety: When people struggle with anxiety, they can be sensitive to the idea of a situation or relationship going wrong. As a result, they may struggle and apologize a disproportionate amount.
WAYS TO BE HEALTHY:
Simple things to try so you don't have to be "so sorry."
Try to pause before you apologize: Before you apologize ask, "Have I done something wrong?" If not, don't say "sorry."
Try to express compassion differently: Instead of apologizing say something to show compassion like, "I know this is difficult."
Try to know what your triggers are: Brainstorm what makes you want to apologize. Think of something you can say instead and try to focus on eliminating "sorry" from that context.
Try to Phrase questions carefully: Don't say "sorry" when you just need clarification. Say something like, "Can you please help me understand this better?"
Try to turn apologies into gratitude: Think of a way to rephrase it into a statement of gratitude. Say something like, "I am grateful you helped me out!", instead of saying, "I am sorry you had to go and pick up my son." This focuses your mind on positivity and thankfulness.
This is something that I struggle with at times. This post contains some information and tips that I am currently working through in my own journey towards increased health. I owe a lot of thanks to many resources that have been helpful to me and may be for you as well.
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’
-Luke 13:32 (NIV)
As Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem someone asked him if only a few are going to be saved. The one who asks is wondering if many people are going to find healing and salvation. Jesus responds to those with him by charging them to strive, to fight, to struggle, to contend with adversity to enter through the narrow door. Many people with try but will not be successful. They will not know the owner of the house and the door will be closed. While they may plead and knock, the door will remain closed because they are unknown to the owner. (Luke 13:22-27)
Jesus then gives a brief description of the place that these people will inhabit which includes weeping and gnashing of teeth. They will not inhabit the Kingdom of God. Other people, from all different locations, will come and they will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. (Luke 13:28-30)
What is the kingdom of God? The kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal, sovereign God over the universe. More specifically, it is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly submit to God's authority. Those who defy God's authority and refuse to submit to Him are not part of the kingdom of God. Those who acknowledge the lordship of Christ and gladly surrender to God's rule in their hearts are part of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is spiritual and is not of this world.
It is at this time when some Pharisees approached Jesus. They came to warn him that he needs to leave. Herod Antipas is interested in killing Jesus. We are unsure of the motive of the Pharisees. It is possible that they are genuinely concerned for the life of Jesus, and they want to warn him so that he won't be harmed. It is also possible that they were threatened themselves. They may not have wanted Jesus to stay as it may have imposed on their ability to be "in charge". In either case Jesus is warned of the imminent danger posed by Herod. (Luke 13:31)
I am fascinated by the response of Christ!
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ -Luke 13:32
This is a term of contempt. Jesus expresses an attitude of authority and scorn towards the persecution and adversity of which he is warned. He has a message for the opposition. He will keep freeing and healing people today. He plans to free and heal people tomorrow. On the third day, he will be finished!
Later, Jesus laments and weeps those he loves who kill the prophets and stone the messengers. He longs gather all his children together and protect them from adversity, but many are unwilling. Those who are unwilling to receive his healing and freedom are reminded that they will not see him again until he returns for his Church. (Luke 13:33-35)
The question was asked of Jesus if only a few would find freedom and healing. With sadness Jesus reminded the people that this would in fact be the case. Not because of his desire but because of the unwillingness of many hearts.
Today Jesus brings freedom. Today Jesus heals.
Tomorrow Jesus brings freedom. Tomorrow Jesus heals.
On the third day it will be finished.
On the Cross of Jesus, he declares that it is finished! Jesus has reached his goal. It is the third day that he is resurrected. It is on the third day when he returns that we who have been raised to new life in Jesus will find our ultimate fulfillment of freedom and healing. Those who have been set free by the Jesus, while they may be few, are in fact free!
GO TELL THAT FOX
Go tell the adversary. Go tell the enemy. Go tell the devil. Go tell that fox!
GO TELL THAT FOX that in Christ you are made whole in spirit, soul and body and will be blameless at the coming of my Lord Jesus Christ.
GO TELL THAT FOX that you have learned the secret of being content whether you go satisfied or hungry.
GO TELL THAT FOX that you are a part of the body of Christ and no weapon formed against you will prosper.
GO TELL THAT FOX that you don’t have to be afraid; you God is with you, and he will strengthen you and hold you up.
GO TELL THAT FOX that you have been set free. The son has set you free, so you are free indeed.
And when you finish the race, you may be limping or crawling to the finish line but you will know that your work is done, and you will soon see your King face to face and say “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” and you will know that your work is done because you will hear him say “well done my good and faithful servant”. The one who declared victory over adversity on the cross when He said “It is finished” will be the one who completed the work for you and rose to life on the third day that you may too be resurrected when your work on earth is done. Praise be to God who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
GO TELL THAT FOX that you are not finished. The work of Jesus is finished. There is no persecution or adversity that will overcome you because you belong to the one who holds the keys to life and death, and while the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy… Jesus came that you would have life. Life now… and life forever. It is no longer you, but Christ who lives in you. You are alive!