Depemdence and Hulility

Posted: May 1, 2016 in Thoughts on God

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV)

Guest Blog From Jordan:

*Dependence and Humility is part four in the series DEPENDENCE, and holds the greatest value when read in sequence. You can start at the beginning here.*

While recovering from surgery, all heroic notions of self-reliance were literally chiseled out of me (yes, a literal hammer and chisel were used on my vertebrae). An event the morning following my procedure was the greatest illustration of dependence and humility I have ever received, and most likely will be for some time. In short, I was unable to use the restroom under my own power, which my mind was not a lesson in humility, but in humiliation.

However, as I lay in my uncomfortable, fold-in-ten-different-directions hospital bed, the embarrassing experience was used like a spotlight by the Holy Spirit. It sent a beam of stark, shining light straight at the plank that had lived in my eye for so long: my need to be the hero. By God’s grace that idol is crumbling in my heart, though not yet gone completely. I do believe this pride induced longing to be our own heroes, our own saviors, is implanted in us from an early age, and it is deadly.

Pride presents itself in various forms: legalism, works-based righteousness, arrogance, a holier-than-though mentality, and sadly, utter despair. But when we rightly understand our complete dependence upon Jesus as Savior and Hero, then, and only then, can we truly begin to walk in humility from a changed heart. Dependence enables humility because we ultimately realize that Jesus is the only possible strength for our weakness, and to pretend otherwise is folly.

Walk in humility by embracing your dependence on Christ. Ask God to soften your heart and draw you nearer to Him.

Pastor Mike Says

John 7:37-38 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Half-frozen river in snow

An estimated 500,000 tons of water go over Niagara Falls every minute. On March 29, 1948, the falls suddenly stopped. Those who lived near enough heard the overwhelming silence, and immediately they thought it was a sign – the end of the world had come! However, after thirty hours had passed – the flow of water resumed.

What happened? Heavy winds had set the ice fields of Lake Erie in motion and tons of ice had jammed the Niagara River entrance near Buffalo. The ice blocked the flow of water until finally, there was a shift in the blockage and the river…

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Be a Resource

Posted: April 24, 2016 in Thoughts on God

and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)

Paul was training Timothy, and in doing so, teaching him to teach others. Timothy was called to “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others”, or to invest in those who would move from mere consumption to a deliverer of the Gospel.

In the church today we might only think of the preachers or sunday teachers in the church as the ones who are called teach people. We focus on the supposed “higher calling” of leaders to the exclusion of the “heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1) of every believer. Yes, the mantle of training and teaching was here laid upon a leader, Timothy, but there also exists a calling upon the “faithful men” to be trained, and be taught.

There exists then a unified calling, applicable on both sides of leadership; a calling upon the leader to train, and a calling upon the follower to come forth, count the cost, and pay it. Is it time for you to live as a resource for others instead of constantly consuming investments poured into your life? Consider then,

the “land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:7-8).

Are you guilty of living as parched ground that greedily swallows the life giving rain, but never yields a useful crop for others? Do you continually bear the “thorns and thistles” produced by bondage to your sinful flesh? Start using your God given gifts and talents to be a resource in raising up faithful men and women.

Is it time for you to live as a resource for others instead of constantly consuming the investments poured into your life?

Sins Cause Callousness

Posted: April 22, 2016 in Thoughts on God

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” (Nehemiah 2:17 ESV)

Jerusalem had been destroyed and lying in ruins for over 125 years. The people Nehemiah was talking to here had been living in the rubble heap that was Jerusalem for ten years or more. Why then, was it necessary for him to tell them to look at the “ruins” and start building the wall? It was because the Israelites that were living there had become callous to their surroundings. Day after day they became numb to walking over rubble and not having gates to protect them. Eventually, this literally broken city became comfortable and home to them.

Unfortunately, this same destruction can become comfortable in our lives today. Just as the Israelites walked by the ruins of their once magnificent city without a blink of an eye, we can do the same with small persistent sins in our lives. Have you ever seen a “small” sin in your life slowly and gradually turn into a “big” one? Or, maybe you have had a sin in your life that has been there so long that it just feels “normal” now. That is what life was like for the Israelites. This is also what our spiritual life is like when we become callous to God and the way He desires for us to live.

When our hearts are calloused to God, it makes it more difficult to discern His voice and leading. This is why we must continually ask God to show us areas in our life that he desires to rebuild, restore, and make right with him. God does not want us to live in sin, numb to the ruins around us. He wants to set us free!

Have you grown callous to the “ruins” of sin in your life?

I’ll be back tomorrow

Posted: April 21, 2016 in Thoughts on God

Good Morning, everyone! I’m just dropping in to let everyone know that I am adjusting to my treatments, and will be resuming my posts tomorrow. I appreciate the well wishes, and just like before, I will beat this again through the power of Christ…:)

Quick update

Posted: April 5, 2016 in Thoughts on God

My apologies for no new posts recently, but unfortunantly, my cancer has returned. As soon as I get back into my treatments, I will resume. Love you all.

 

Pastor Mike

Holy Week-Palm Sunday

Posted: March 20, 2016 in Thoughts on God

The days leading up to Easter often have an understandably somber feel to them, particularly as we contemplate Jesus’ arrest, trial, and execution. It’s easy to forget that the week begins with a joyful event: the Triumphal Entry!

Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, we commemorate Jesus’ celebrated entry into Jerusalem just a few days before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

The “palm” in Palm Sunday refers to the palm branches waved by the adoring Jerusalem crowds who welcomed Jesus and proclaimed him King. The event is commonly referred to as the Triumphal Entry. Here’s the account from Matthew 21:1-11:

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

The Triumphal Entry is also described in the other three Gospels; see Mark 11:1-11, John 12:12-19, andLuke 19:28-44. While each account tells the same story, each provides a few unique details that, taken together, give us a complete picture of the event.

On the surface, the celebratory events of Palm Sunday make it an unusual starting point for the Easter story. Jesus’ arrival on a lowly donkey might seem almost as strange to us today as it did to the crowds who witnessed it. But Palm Sunday sets the stage for Easter in several important ways.

Most importantly, Jesus’ triumphant entry made abundantly clear Jesus’ claim to be the promised Messiah and Savior. The seemingly odd choice of a donkey as a mount was a specific fulfillment of a prophecy in the Old Testament book of Zechariah, as the account above notes:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Although Jesus’ contemporaries often struggled to make the connection, this was more evidence to anyone with “eyes to see and ears to hear” that He was the long-awaited Savior.

The Triumphal Entry also highlights important truths about both humanity and God. It illuminates the fickle nature of the human heart; the city that eagerly embraced Jesus one day would be calling for his death just a short while later. And it reminds us that God often fulfills His promises in ways we don’t expect: here was Israel’s promised king, but riding on a donkey, not the noble warhorse one might expect. He was a king, but not the one Jerusalem thought it needed—instead of liberating them from Roman oppression through military might, Jesus intended to liberate his people from the oppression of sin… by sacrificing himself. God fulfilled His promise but confounded human assumptions about how He would do so.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the “triumph” of Palm Sunday isn’t entirely overshadowed by grim irony. On the contrary, today is a day of genuine joy—a day when we get a brief glimpse of how thingsshould have been. Here, Jesus is greeted with joy and celebration, praised as a king and welcomed by his people into their city and their lives. The warm welcome won’t last, but at this point in the Gospel story, it’s possible to imagine that it might.

Read the story of the Triumphal Entry and try to imagine what it would’ve been like to witness it in person. The darkness of the crucifixion looms on the horizon, but this is an occasion of celebration nonetheless—the promised king has revealed himself at last to his people! Hallelujah; praise the King!