His love and the cross

I took this picture out the car window earlier today. The image reminded me that God’s love can be hard to see at times, but the Cross is always there, standing as a constant reminder.
Father in Heaven, please keep us in your love. Help us to be forever reminded, Lord. Thank you for the Cross. In Jesus name, amen.

The Church At War…

The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel. 

Yet nevertheless, the church on earth has, and until the second advent must be, the church militant, the church armed, the church warring, the church conquering. And how is this?

It is in the very order of things that so it must be. Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies. 

-C.H. Spurgeon 

Wolves in sheep’s clothing…

Successfully creeped out the church family with this picture this morning 😅 And it should creep us out! Jesus gave us a strong and sobering warning when he said: 

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15

Among other things, false prophets are known by being:

•Greedy 
•Worldly 
•Popular
•Teach unsound doctrine (out of step with God’s Word and void of the Gospel)

For additional reading check out 2Peter 2:2-3, 2Tim 4:3-5, and 1John 4:1-3.

We have to be vigilant in this, church! And the best way for us know a phony is to know the REAL DEAL — to be so familiar with Word and the gospel Good News of Jesus Christ when a counterfeit comes along, we recognize it. We have to seek God and wisdom above all else. And friends, please don’t be afraid to warn a brother and sister about unsound doctrine. Love them enough to point them to the truth, in love. 

Jesus is worth it!

This past Sunday we look at Matthew 7:13-14 and talked about how the gate is narrow, the way is hard, but Jesus Christ is totally worth it! While looking at the narrow way of Christ we discussed how the gospel of Jesus Christ is different than any other approach to God. It’s been said that all other religions are man’s attempt at getting to God, but the gospel is God succeeding in reaching man, through Jesus Christ. Below is a source that I read part of that contrasts religion and the The Gospel. 

Choices

Today, like every day, will be a series of encounters with imperfect people who don’t do things to our liking. When that happens we can get angry, frustrated, and feel superior over others, or we can be patient, remember our own flaws, and share a measure of the grace that God so freely gives to us. #choices

We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19

For parents of teens, youth leaders, etc.

…a fool is reckless and careless. -Proverbs 14:16

Parents of teens and those who work with high school students know the Spring of year is a fun and exciting time of year for students, especially the closer they get to being seniors. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous time. I don’t have statistics to back it up, but it just seems like this time of year, as we get closer to school ending, students are just more likely to be careless with their actions and make choices that can be detrimental to their emotional, physical and spiritual health. If you’ve noticed this pattern yourself and would like to talk to your teen about navigating this season with care and wisdom, I’d like to share a couple of things from my limited experience that might be helpful:

1. Talk to him/her like they are an adult, and share your concerns in a loving, straightforward way. Be diligent not to come across like you think they are so stupid that you have to take the time to talk to them about their dumb choices. Don’t be a grouch. Don’t talk down to them. Maybe start with something like, “hey I love you very much and I want you to have a good time, but more than that I want you to be safe and keep your head on straight. I wouldn’t be talking to you about it if I didn’t think you were capable of hearing it.”

2. Don’t try to be cool. Sometimes during this season parents/leaders realize that time with their young person at home is short and then tend to get lax on wise parameters. Don’t do that. If you have set high standards for your kids, keep them. Resist the temptation to say things like “I know there will probably be drinking, I hope you will stay put when you drink and know when you’ve had too much” 🙄 — There are good reasons lawmakers who don’t even know your kids or care nearly as much about them have put laws in the place to try and prevent them from consuming alcohol until the age of 21. Encourage them to obey the law, encourage them to drive the speed limit, tell them to have fun while being responsible. If they choose to break laws or act foolishly don’t let it be because you encouraged them to by trying to score points as a cool mom, dad, or leader. And newsflash? You aren’t cool 😆 For the most part, your time has passed on all that ha ha. I’m right there with you. 👴🏻

3. Don’t be unnecessarily overbearing. I hope this doesn’t sound like a contradiction to my last statement, but this is not the time to put the screws on them either. They are getting older and wanting more freedom is a natural thing! If you get a sense that they are on a trajectory towards responsibility and doing the right things then give them some room to breathe, stay out later, go more places, etc. Say yes when you can! Middle schoolers dislike the feeling of a helicopter parent. Highschoolers? Tend to hate it. 😅

4. Remind them of their priorities. This is so important! If your student is a self proclaiming follower of Jesus Christ, remind them that everything that they do is to be done for the glory of God. And if they can’t glorify God in doing it, don’t do it. If they want to get into a good college and have a career in mind, remind them that their actions today can prevent them from achieving big goals tomorrow. We underestimate teenagers when we think that they can’t hear those kinds of things. They are more forward thinking then we give them credit for. Sometimes they just need a reminder, like all of us do.

I assure you I haven’t been perfect on all of this. Some of this advice comes from “woulda coulda shouldas” that I have looking back. I hope you find them helpful. Also, chances are if you’re still reading this, you love teens and want what’s best for them. For that I want to thank you, commend you, and ask that you join in me in praying for them. They’ve got it tougher than we realize and need all the prayer and encouragement they can get.

Good question for teens/young adults approaching college years…

Good question for teens/young adults approaching college years: What’cha gonna do after high school?

Better questions: What kind of person do you want to become in this next season of life? What needs do you see in the world that you can help with? How will you maximize your unique gifting to glorify God and help others? What eternal investments would you like to make?

Career goals are important. Character is more important. GPA is important. Growing in spiritual maturity is more important. Being impressive is good. Making an impact is dramatically better.

Young adults need our help and encouragement to move beyond the status quo. Many times they behave in ways that we criticize them for because we give them almost zero expectations.

#goodquestion #betterquestion

Resurrection Sunday Evening

On the evening that Jesus arose from the dead he came and stood among the disciples. The first thing he said? “Peace be with you.” Jesus didn’t want his disciples living in fear, and he doesn’t want that for us now. His cross, the empty tomb, and his presence are meant to bring us peace.
Then, Jesus showed the disciples the wounds in his hands and his side. The 2nd thing he said? Again, “Peace be with you” but then he added “As the father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus had a plan to send his disciples to make him known. That’s his plan for us too.
I’d like to encourage us to live sent. I know yesterday was a big church day for a lot of us, and that’s a good thing. There’s lots of encouragement in crowds of people worshipping God. But how many people didn’t worship yesterday? My point is that so many people in this world desperately need the peace that only Jesus can bring. Jesus is sending us to share his love and message. Maybe today, remembering what we celebrated this past weekend, we can make a commitment to have a gospel conversation with someone. Something beyond the surface, taking a spiritual interest in the people around us and looking for an opportunity to share with them how Jesus has brought peace to us. In those gospel conversations we’re never alone, the Spirit leads and the power of Christ is experienced in a unique way.
Have a good day, friends. And as Jesus would say, “Peace be with you.”

**John 20:19-21