Archives for category: discipleship

risingtoanewdayI wanted to share the Easter message broadcast this week from Jentzen Franklin. Listen to it when you get the chance. It will bless and encourage you and help you be ready to receive more of the word when we get together this Sunday, April 23rd.

If you’re not receiving our daily blog, GraceTribe.us, please follow the link and follow us from our new location.

the passion of the ChristSimply put, we don’t deserve to receive the benefits of Jesus’ passion. The actual events point to this and our experience now reveals it again. As the disciples squabbled among themselves about who would be the greatest, Jesus humbled himself and washed their feet. As the disciples fell asleep, Jesus was agonizing in prayer, sweating drops of blood on their behalf.

As Jesus was facing a mock trial, beaten, and scourged; his disciples at best denied him and at worst hid themselves in fear. As Jesus bore their sins on the cross, they remained silent or hidden. Jesus – alone – faced the judgment of the world and sin.

Romans 5: 6 says, sin had made us all sick and weak. When Christ died, he died for those unable to worship, unable to give honor or devotion to the Lord. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

“But, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8) When we were without passion, God shows His passion for us. Don’t ever think God (Jesus) dies for your potential good. A passion-less person has no potential to offer, little less be realized.  Neither did Jesus die for the unrecognized good you already possess.

Don’t kid yourself. You’re not all that.  But, Jesus is and more.

Even while the friends closest to him were betraying and denying him, Jesus still moves forward to the cross. Even while the system is rigged against him, Jesus is still resolutely and obediently moving towards Golgotha. Even while, nobody gets it, Jesus makes a new covenant in his own blood and sacrifice.

The promise that drives his passion? “…he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge (of the Father), my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53: 10 – 11)

practiceWhen I was growing up we were told, “Practice makes perfect.” It wasn’t until later when my band director then my preaching professor told me, “Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”  So what did I learn from that? Don’t be sloppy in my practice unless I want to be permanently sloppy in my performance. Don’t limit yourself by how or what you practice. Make sure, as the great golfer Ben Hogan said, practice always leads to improvement.

Now, take that wisdom and apply it to your general approach to things instead of learning a specific skill. Are you well practiced at being patient? Do you have faith and grace enough to trust God to work everything together for your good? Do you have enough to trust others and be a part of a process, be a part of a conversation, to improve things?

Or, are you well practiced at being paranoid? Jumping to conclusions?  Prejudging and then planting seeds of betrayal and bias into any process or conversation of which you are a part?

Unfortunately, I’ve practiced both in my lifetime but I am asking God for both me and you to stand ready from this moment forward to, as the New King James version of Luke 22: 19 puts it, “By your patience, possess your souls.” Or, as the NIV reads, “Stand firm and you will win life.”  Yes, let’s be well practiced in the things that lead us to share in Christ’s victory!

signsofthetimes(A Brief Meditation on Psalm 46 and Matthew 24)

The way of grace teaches us that our hope for life begins in repentance. We prioritize out of necessity and for the sake of aligning ourselves with the truth.

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because man-made opinions and bubbles burst and the world tries to bustle us into becoming entangled with its causes, wars, and disputes. We believe so our ways might be exchanged for the ways of God, worldly reactions and responses exchanged for the will of God’s Kingdom.

We build up our faith because the systems upon which we lean and depend will be kicked out from under us. There will be divisions along ethnic lines and realms of thought.

We bless others in the power of the Spirit because a spirit of bitterness is taking hold of our society. There is a famine of taking in God’s Word.  We are called to move as free people, willing to let go of our own lives for the sake of those who are locked into their limiting fortresses of unbelief. We know soon all the vain things which leech and consume our attention will be consumed by God’s fiery judgment so while the light of grace still shines we are working.

We bring life in Jesus’ name to those pestered and plagued by sin, seemingly bound to turmoil, chaos, and unrest. We influence this wicked and perverse generation by the rest and stillness we have found in the presence of God. As we allow God to ascend in the midst of what we do, even the ‘fools who say there is no God’ may discover otherwise.

We breakthrough as the One whose name is above all names is exalted in our lives. Everything we know will be shaken including the ground upon which we stand. The confidence we carry is “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46: 7, 11)

encouragerWho have you encouraged, today?  Another person? Yourself?

Were your eyes open wide enough to see that moment when you could show mercy and act with kindness toward someone?

To the one you cut short or cut off, did you go back and apologize? Did it occur to you that they were already disappointed in themselves for what they missed?  Was it a help for you to double the impact of their disappointment?

Correction can rise from two different roots: the law or grace.  We all try to avoid being corrected by the law. I mean, the last thing anyone wants to see are those flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror.

But, when someone brings correction out of love there is no lasting grief or regret. We are pulled closer to where we need to be together.

The law drives a wedge between the one correcting and the one being corrected. Grace drops an anchor that allows us both to be steadfast no matter how stormy it gets.

Again, just checking, who have you encouraged, today?

(This post is used by permission and is written by my dear friend, Dr. Craig Green, Pastor of Livingston First Church, Livingston, TN.)


Misunderstood Love

PalmSundayWhen Yeshua had come closer and could see the city (Jerusalem), he wept over it, saying, “If you only knew today what is needed for shalom! But for now it is hidden from your sight… all because you did not recognize your opportunity when God offered it!” (Luke 19:41-44 CJB)

Misunderstanding love is the hallmark of the fallen human race—regardless of how God presents love; regardless of how explicit He is in foretelling it. Not only are we guilty of misunderstanding His love, we are guilty of redefining His love—even though He has clearly defined what real love is—and is not—in His Word…

Jesus wept over a city that should have known better. Zechariah 9:9 clearly states that your King comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey. The crowd outside the city got it…sort of. They covered the ground with palm branches and clothing and shouted praises as King Jesus rode toward Jerusalem. But they misunderstood the Messiah coming in humility, regardless of what the prophet had said.

That misunderstanding caused Jesus to weep over a city that would be utterly destroyed—with enormous loss of life—less than forty years later. Many in Israel never did come to see their Messiah…

I wonder if Jesus’ second coming—this time as the King of Kings riding on a white horse—will be equally or even more misunderstood…

While the religious leaders and most of the public two thousand years ago could not fathom a Suffering Servant as the Messiah (despite the prophet Isaiah’s clear words), most of our current world can’t seem to fathom a mighty victorious King coming in perfect authority and righteousness in His Second Coming.

In perfect humility—or in perfect glory, honor, and strength—Jesus is still… Perfect Love! His love is equally evident in suffering for our sin (as He did on the cross), in calling us to righteous holiness that finds victory over sin (as He does now), to returning in all glory and power to restore perfection (as He will soon).

The Love of God is still misunderstood and it is still being redefined as people long to manufacture a god who serves our needs and scratches our itches rather than submit to the one true God who—in humility and in all power—calls us to surrender to Him, as if… He is God and we are not!

Both, I believe, make Jesus weep as multitudes miss the peace Jesus brought, brings, and will bring.

· He came as a humble servant, but they wanted a militant king…

· He is now the King of righteousness who demands transformation by the Word and Spirit, but many bristle at the suggestion that HIS definition of righteousness and love, not ours, is the standard.

· He will come in all glory as God the King, but many will balk in full-blown rebellion.

This Palm Sunday, perhaps the thing to do is to lay down our lives before Him (rather than palm branches), and to receive HIM until our misunderstandings and redefinitions are overpowered by His enormous and perfect love…!

refreshingHow do we avoid long dry spells? What do we do when we know we’ve reached a stalemate somewhere between faith and joy? We’re not doing anything wrong. We may have grown weary from doing the right thing repetitively. Jesus has prayed for us so we don’t get stuck in the middle of faith and joy and call it peace. Jesus has prayed for our joy to be full. So, how can we revive our joy and keep things fresh?

  1. We can make sure we’re abiding in Christ. We have habits that daily connect or reconnect us with Jesus.  We may need to designate space and time each day to ensure that happens. I remember when as a young boy, we worked the fields on the farm. Getting tired was inevitable. Feeling word down happened all the time. Because we knew it was going to happen, we always reserved a shady spot to set the ice cold water  and snacks. Reaching the end of a row we could take a quick break, take in that refreshment, feel a little bit of a breeze, and then get back at it.
  2. We can ask for revival and renewal in Jesus’ name. Turning to the Lord in repentance and prayer always opens us to a special season of refreshing from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3: 19)
  3. We can learn something new, especially something new about the gracious way God works in our lives. “I keep my eyes always on the LORD… You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16: 8a, 11)
  4. We can find someone who appreciates what we’re doing. If we’re getting tired doing the right thing, we can find someone who has been encouraged or blessed by our faithfulness. It’s not that hard to do and if you can’t find a human being handy, then ask the Lord to share through the Holy Spirit and remind you of the prize you are pursuing and the reward you will receive.

Which way helps you get your joy restored and elevated?  What’s the last thing you learned that reignited and awakened your joy?  Do you have people around you that affirm your gifts and strengths?