Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jesus prayed, but God said, “I Need You, Son!”


The supper was over and the journey to the cross begins.  Jesus leaves to pray in a garden that would soon become the place of betrayal.  While Jesus was praying, the three disciples with him could hardly stay awake.  After all, they just ate a big meal and exhausted from the heavy conversation they had with Jesus.  Can I blame them for falling asleep?  Not at all!  After all, they didn’t fully grasp that Jesus ate his last Passover meal nor did they grasp the gravity of Jesus’ desire to talk to his Father; for it wasn’t unusual for Jesus to spend time talking to his dad.

Jesus’ prayer was intense, heartfelt and sorrowful.  His prayer was emotionally raw and nothing was held back.  Jesus’ plea for a better way to save all of us wasn’t his way to wiggle out of his responsibility, rather it was his humanity feeling the pains relationally, emotionally and physically that were about to come upon him from the beating, the slaps to the face, the nails, the crown of thorns, the spear, the humiliation, the betrayal, the denials, the loneliness, the hatred. 

As Jesus falls to his face to pray, his prayer gives way to the Father’s will.  His ability to rise from his own will to the Father’s will is a demonstration of his character as a man and his faithfulness as the Son of God.  It was never Jesus’ intention to be selfish, weak or uncaring.  Jesus’ prayer was one that spoke from the heart of a man to the heart of the eternal Father who had the ability to make the course of salvation for mankind any way he chooses it to be.  Jesus was not exempt from his Father’s wishes.  Jesus said in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” (NLT)

Jesus’ prayer did not go unnoticed.  His Father heard every word.  I imagine Jesus’ Father was in as much anguish as his son.  I imagine tears flowed freely as he listened and watched his son struggling in the garden.  I imagine Jesus’ Father wanted to pick up his boy and whisk him away and say, let’s find another way to bring salvation to everyone.  I imagine Jesus heard clearly his Father say with a soft, but shaky voice, I need you, son.  You are the only one who can endure the pain and suffering. You are the only choice.  You are the perfect choice.  Son, I love you.  I will walk with you as far as I can and then you will be on your own for a bit as the sins of the world are placed upon your shoulders.  I know son, it will be an awful experience.  It will break my heart the day we will be separated.  But son, “you are the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through you.” (Paraphrased) John 14:6 (NLT)

The prayer is over.  Jesus makes his way to his sleeping disciples and says, “The betrayer is near.”  It was then all chaos broke out.  The mob arrives.  The leader was none other than one of Jesus’ own disciples.  Judas!  A back stabbing, selfish, money-grubbing fink who sold out his friend for a few hundred bucks.  How could he?  The rat was more interested in fortune than he was in sticking by his Saviors side.  How could anyone be so blatantly evil toward a man who led him for three years of his life?  No loyalty!  A traitor!

Jesus’ garden became the last place where he was free.  But, it also became the starting place for all us to be set free.  John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV) Jesus loves us deeply, that is why the cross is significant and powerful and an act of absolute love, mercy, forgiveness and grace.  Jesus wants every one of his kids to be saved, which is why he willingly went to the cross.  If you want to know more about Jesus and you want to be saved, too, email me at thegreatestcommandislove@gmail or call/text me at 931-545-7543

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Best Ways to Confront Someone


Confronting people isn’t so easy.  A lot could go wrong.  Trying to say the right words at the right time can be a difficult task; especially if the critic is on the defense or doesn’t believe he/she has done or said anything wrong.  There is the expression, “like it or lump it.”  Meaning, one can deal with it or agonize through it.  President Harry S. Truman was credited for saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”  Meaning, if you can’t handle the task, get out. 

Jesus had to confront two of his disciples during and after the Last Supper.  The first was Judas.  He was a money-grubbing kind of guy.  His actions before the supper demonstrated that he would do anything to get rich, even if it meant to sell out a friendship with a man he knew was the Son of God.  Judas was selfish.  Like it or lump it kind of guy.  A conniving fraud that made it look as if he was really into the whole discipleship idea.  He was a liar.  He was a pretender.  He was a con man. 

The second disciple Jesus had to confront was Peter. It was after the supper when Jesus told his disciples, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me….” Matthew 26:31 Peter became argumentative by saying, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”  Matthew 26:33 In the moment, Peter believed it.  He wanted to believe it.  He was determined to get Jesus to believe his ability to “stand the heat!”  But, when Peter is left alone and was tested in his true loyalty to Jesus, the Son of God, he had to “get out of the kitchen.”  Peter failed.  Peter cursed and swore that he didn’t even know Jesus.  The once determined disciple has now become the reality of Jesus’ prediction.   

Confronting can be painful and exhausting.  Jesus proves that confronting isn’t easy; especially with people who will not listen or lie or think they know more than Jesus does.  Confronting is necessary and will ultimately reveal the real truth.  When the truth is revealed, that too, can be painful, as it was for Jesus, but again, it is necessary to get it out in the open. 

For me, I totally dislike confrontation.  For those who know me may have a hard time believing that I struggle with confronting other, but it is true.  I know how difficult it can be and am afraid at times of the reaction to the person being confronted.  However, it is important to remember the motive, goals and desired outcomes when dealing with sensitive issues. 

Jesus’ model for confronting was to simply put it all out in the open and deal with it head-on.  He never sugarcoated anything for the sake of not offending the one being confronted.  However, he was not rude, nor was he hateful.  When he confronted Judas and Peter, he was calm, gentle, and sensitive.  He never said hateful and demeaning comments, nor did he belittle anyone.  Rather, he stated the facts and dealt with the problems with an open and honest heart and attitude. 

In order for our homes, churches, communities and government to be a better place, we have to learn to sit down and deal with our differences with an honest and open heart and attitude.  The bible is full of ways to deal with difficult people and situations.  The key is applying them with a desire for a positive outcome.  It is true, not all outcomes will be positive, but at least the issues were dealt with and the motives were right. 

Best ways to confront someone God’s way:

#1.  “Get rid of ALL bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” Ephesians 4:31

#2.  If your brother or sister sins against you, go and show him/her faults, just between the two of you….” Matthew 18:15a

#3.  Make every effort to live in peace with all men….” Hebrews 12:14

#4.  Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

As we confront, ensure that the heart is right, the motive is right, and the desired outcome is right.  We represent Jesus and to stray from his way of confronting people will be disastrous.

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Loved to Hate


A couple thousand years ago a man entered the scene of a clannish group of elites who had the market on the know-it-all.  I mean; they knew the law inside and out.  They lived it.  Breathed it.  Talked it.  Commanded it.  To veer one iota of it was to break all of it.  The religious elitists pompous attitudes were not attracting those searching for a better life; rather, they were hindering those searching. 

Jesus comes on to the scene with a new kind of message.  An attractive message.  A grace-filled message.  A hopeful message.  Jesus was Kind.  Compassionate.  Patient.  Jesus sees the searchers as an opportunity to steer them toward God.  He made them feel better about themselves and about the future.  Jesus was an optimist.  A Can-doer.  A mercy man.  Jesus was the light in the darkest of moments.  Jesus was the open-door for those who were being hindered by rejection from the religious elite who prevented them from seeing God as one who was a provider, a comforter, a caregiver, a protector, and a lover. 

Jesus’ messages put the religious elites on the defensive.  The elites came out swinging at him and looked for every opportunity to take him out…permanently.  However, No matter the attempts, Jesus still stayed focused on the plan, God’s plan.  The plan was to help people like the Samaritan woman whose life was in chaos in John 4.  She had five husbands in her life and now she is living with a guy.  Jesus saw passed her past and gave her hope.  Not just hope for her, but others as well.  Because of Jesus’ compassion to a woman who needed it the most, the people of the town said, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world!” John 4:42 (The Message)

The Samaritan revival was just one of many life-changing events that happened because of Jesus.  His desire to build relationships and point people to God was the hallmark of his ministry.  His desire to teach and model what he taught made way for countless people to become Jesus followers.  Jesus was a change-maker, a storyteller, and a salvation giver.  However, Jesus’ goodness ultimately became part of the reason many of the “religious” people hated him with a vengeance.   Their hatred grew to murderous thoughts and to eventually killing him in front of a slanderous mob whose only purpose was to make a spectacle out of him. 

The murder of Jesus seemed hopeless to those who loved him.  The days to follow were filled with sorrow and grief.  Dismayed.  Hurt.  Disappointment.  Defeat.  Depression.  Lost.  Could it be that Jesus is really gone for good?  His life’s work all for naught? 

Any hope?  Is this it? 

Could it be that the one who claimed to be the bridge-builder, the better life inventor, the Holy Son of God was taken down by those who loved to hate him without a fight? 

Is this really it?

Not a chance!  Something extraordinary is about to happen.  It will blow your mind!  Get ready!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Life is About What is and What Can Be


“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” William James

There is a story told of identical twins: “One was a hope-filled optimist. “Everything is coming up roses!” He would say. The other was a sad and hopeless pessimist. He thought that Murphy, as in Murphy’s Law, was an optimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local Psychologist.

He suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins’ personalities. “On their next birthday, put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford, and give the optimist a box of manure.” The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results.

When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, “I don’t like the color of the computer…I’ll bet the calculator will break…I don’t like this game…I know someone who’s got a bigger toy car than this…”

Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the air. He was giggling. “You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s gotta be a pony!”
(Excerpt from Chicken Soup for the Soul)

There are two kinds of people: Optimists and pessimists. Some will see the wonderful works that are being done everyday, while others are always looking to find the bad.

Christian living isn’t about what isn’t, but rather, what is and what can be.  We are so blessed with brothers and sisters who see us for who we really are, but they also stick with us for they have an eye for who we can be. Jesus is the perfect model of taking a bad situation and making something good out of it. There was no joy in suffering, separation, or sin being splatter all over Him. However, Jesus took our suffering and our separation, and our sin and created the most spectacular opportunity ever! Jesus healed us spiritually by His wounded flesh. By His bloody body, and by taking the sin bullet for us!

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was not a prayer of pessimism, but rather, a prayer of humility and service opportunity for mankind. Jesus didn’t see the last days of His life as doom and gloom. Jesus saw the last days as an opportunity to show case His Father’s limitless and unquenchable love for mankind. Romans 5:8 say, “God demonstrated his own love for us….”

The Jesus walk isn’t about whether we have all the latest gadgets, but rather, do we really have a joy for Jesus living? Do you love people for who they are? And, do we see people as an opportunity to show case God by the way that we live our life everyday?

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Worship is NOT just on Sunday!


"If you will not worship God seven days a week, you will not worship Him on one day a week"  A.W. Tozer

"To worship is to experience Reality, to touch life.  It is to know, to feel to experience the resurrected Christ in the midst of the gathered community."  Richard Foster,

Foster also wrote, "Worship is our response to the overtures of love from the heart of the Father." The Scriptures says in Romans 12:1: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your act of spiritual worship."

Worship is the way we show our love and respect to God for who He is and what He has done for us.  Disciplining ourselves to studying the Word of God, praying to the Father on a daily basis, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit,  will lead to the desire to worship Him daily, not just on Sunday morning.

Worship is a lifestyle!  We don't start and stop worship to God; we live it daily.  24/7.  365 days a year for a lifetime.  The newest Jesus followers in Acts 2 disciplined themselves to a daily worshipful lifestyle:  (42)"They devoted themselves to: Teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer."  (46-47) "Every day they continued to meet together...praising God...."  Worship to God for the earliest Christians was a daily lifestyle.  No short cuts.  No time limits.  No restraints.

Worship is spiritual focusColossians 3:2 says to "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."  Right thinking will lead to right focus.  When the Words of Christ dwells in our lives, we are able to focus our minds upon God.  We put to death all the things that rob our relationship and worship to God.  When we focus on being spiritual, it will give attention to good works and worship to God – Matthew 5:16

God is worthy of all of our adoration, praise, and attention.  Each day, he provides us with all the resources that will sustain us in life.  He opens up doors for us to walk through so we can experience joy and feel the presence of hope.  He gave up his son so that we could have a relationship with him, personally.  God is creative.  God is generous.  God is trustworthy.  God is dependable.  God is loyal. 

If we only make a Sunday morning church gatherings the totality of our worship, we will set ourselves up to fail Monday through Saturday.  God made each day, not just Sunday.  Give all your attention to the inspiring artist who paints the most beautiful sceneries and provides for us all the resources we need to get us through each day.  Praise him.  Honor him.  Respect him.  Revere him.  Bow before him.  Live for him.

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Acting up in Worship


Worship gatherings are a wonderful place to fellowship, celebrate, and be edified.  I love to attend them and listen to laughter and music being made from the hearts of each attendee as they lift Jesus up, and to cheer on those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus and to joyfully sit around the supper table and eat the bread and drink the wine that represents Christ sacrifice.  Each gathering gives us hope and encouragement and gives us a boost.

I’ve often heard it said that there are five acts of worship in the gathering:  Giving.  Singing.  Preaching.  Lord’s Supper.  And, Praying.  I have searched the Scriptures to find it, but am not able to.  What I have found in Scripture that are acts of worship pertain to our daily lives. 

When I was a kid, we all attended our church gatherings.  When we were younger, we all had to sit with our parents.  For a while, six kids lined the hard wooded pews.  My dad was the lead and then my mother and then we followed from youngest to oldest.  We did not dare “act up in worship.”  If we did, somehow, my father’s arm got pretty long and we felt a pinch on our leg.  We had to stay still.  Listen.  No sleeping. No eating snacks.  No! No! No!  It was a time of strict silence.  Oh, we could sing when we were supposed to and we could give our quarter when the basket was passed and if we were baptized, we could take the Lord’s Supper.  Other than those activities, we didn’t dare make a sound or movement that was distracting. 

Years later, I have found that worshiping God is so much more than sitting idle in a building and going through “acts” of worship.  Worshiping God isn’t confined to a facility once a week and then it is over until the next week; rather, it is a daily opportunity to demonstrate to our God that all we have and all that we are is appreciated.  I love what Romans 16:1 says, And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”  (NLT) Whatever each of us do on a daily basis, whether it is working, sleeping, or simply walk about in life, give it as an offering to God first.  Once we give it to him, there is no taking it back.  This is worship!

While praying and singing and giving and preaching and taking the Lord’s Supper are all beneficial, they do not solely capture the essence of daily worship.  If on one particular Sunday I could not sing, does that mean I did not completely worship God?  Or, if I left before the sermon started, was my worship cut short, therefore, I did not fully worship?  If that were the case we would have a lot of people who do not fully worship God.  On the other hand, if worship is viewed as Ephesians 5:15 describes, “Be careful, then, how you live your life…” (NIV) our entire life would change.  Our music to God would be everyday, not just confined on Sunday.  Our giving would be everyday, not confined to Sunday.  Get the point?  Plus we would live Hebrews 10:24 out, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” (NIV)

Let’s act up in worship…EVERY DAY!  When worship is our life, then it will be much easier to gather with our people to celebrate and fellowship and be edified on a Sunday!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I'm Searching for a Church, Which one is Right?


Nothing can be more confusing than to drive around looking for a new church to connect with.  Nearly on every corner, there is a type of “church.”   One may question:  Why so many?  Why so many of the same type of church? Who is right?  Who is wrong?  Can all of them be right or wrong? 

When one is searching for a church, there is more than just seeing what types of “programs” they offer.  However, “programs” can be a starting point to reaching and connecting with those who are seeking to better themselves, their children, or the entire family. 

It was in the early 1960’s that my father was searching for a better life and more meaning to his spiritual life.  One day, he got a knock on his door from some people who attended the Lemay Church in St. Louis, MO.  They were having their yearly Vacation Bible School (VBS) and had invited him and the family.  My dad accepted the invitation and attended with his family (I wasn’t born yet).  The invitation to the VBS changed his life, my mother’s and our family.  My dad and mom surrendered their lives to Jesus and they resurrected into the new life, which Scripture calls baptism (Romans 6:3-4).  From that invitation to attend a VBS, all six of my parent’s children are born again believers.  Two of the six kids are preachers.  And, most of all the grandchildren are born again believers and some of them serve in a variety of ways in leadership with the church where they are attending. 

Never underestimate the power of inviting someone to your church “program” or worship gatherings.  It just might change their lives for generations to come. 

In seeking the “right” church, one must conclude that there is no perfect church.  We are all sinners in the need of God’s grace.  However, there are at least a couple of important factors one needs to consider when making the final decision as to where to go.

First of all, is Jesus the center?  No one should attend a “church” if Jesus isn’t the centerpiece of it.  Colossians 1:18, Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.” (NLT)  If the church is run by man’s philosophies of what you can and cannot do and who you can and cannot associate with, then stay far way.  That means, Jesus isn’t the center, man is. 

Secondly, is Jesus the leader?  There have been many who have built facilities to worship in or have started a church for one reason or another.  Just because one started a church, he/she isn’t the boss; Jesus is.  By boss I mean, lead builder.  Matthew 16:18, says that Jesus will build his church.  The church is not a literal building, but rather, a spiritual one.  It is inside the hearts of people who have surrendered to Jesus as Lord and Savior and those who have resurrected in the new life.  God does the adding to the “church” and it is relationship based. (Acts 2:41)

“Churches” are everywhere!  No one has the market on who is the most right.  For all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  However, there are many who strive to be the very best they can be biblically and spiritually.  Always ensure in your search that you compare what the preachers, teachers, and their periodicals say with the bible.  Never let anyone tell you they are the only ones going to heaven.  For if they do, they have just made themselves the perfect church.  There is no such thing as the perfect church!  But there is a perfect Savior! 

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian